Prisoners freed just days ago under the early release policy are already committing new crimes.
Within a week of the scheme's introduction, aimed at freeing up space in the UK's overcrowded prisons, 1,700 criminals had been freed 18 days ahead of their scheduled release date.
They were given up to ?172.14 each in cash to make-up for the loss of food and accommodation in jail.
The criminals, included 344 convicted of violence, along with 24 robbers, 149 burglars and 65 drug offenders.
Ministers had promised candidates would be risk-assessed before the scheme began on June 29, to reduce the danger to the public.
But 30 inmates are already back behind bars. Within seven days, at least six had committed a total of eight new crimes.
They were sent back to prison along with 24 others who broke the rules of their release, or skipped meetings with probation officers.
A further 18 are 'unlawfully at large' after failing to stay in contact with probation officers to check they are not re-offending.
Farcically, one criminal walked free a week earlier than the 18-day early release limit, in a blunder by staff, while two others walked out 'without appropriate authorisation'.
Tory justice spokesman Nick Herbert said the policy had proved 'totally unacceptable'.
He added: "The public is being placed at risk and the blame lies squarely with ministers who ten years ago ignored future projections of the prison population and failed to build adequate capacity."
The early release plan was ordered after the prison population reached a record 81,000, with even overspill cells in police stations and courts full.
Ministers had previously insisted such a policy was not an option..
Only sex attackers, the most violent categories of criminal and those serving sentences of more than four years were excluded.
Most of the 1,700 candidates had been sentenced to six months' imprisonment or less but 289 had been jailed for between one and four years.
Others who were freed included thieves, fraudsters and those guilty of motoring offences, such as repeatedly driving without insurance.
Officials, who have been under intense pressure because of the Government's failure to build sufficient prison places, were supposed to vet all candidates to cut the risk of reoffending. But, by July 5, six of those freed had already been caught committing new crimes.
Officials have yet to reveal if they include any grave crimes, such as rape or serious assaults.
Critics say these are only the offences which have been detected, and that the true total is likely to be much higher.
The policy, known as the End of Custody Licence, will remain in place indefinitely. Officials say 25,500 inmates are likely to benefit over the next 12 months.
But if the first week's total was repeated every week for a year it would mean nearly 88,500 offenders being freed early.
Despite the early releases, prison numbers are already beginning to rise again.
Last Friday, the jail population had already returned to 79,767, an increase of more than 200 in a week.
Privately, officials fear that by the autumn they could be facing a fresh overcrowding crisis.