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The Sentence Review Commissioners in Northern Ireland has been appointed to oversee and regulate the early release of certain prisoners convicted during the period of civil unrest. It was established under the terms of the United Kingdom Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act, which came into force in July 1998 in the wake of The Agreement, (also known as the Good Friday Agreement, the Belfast Agreement and the Peace Agreement) signed in Belfast 10 April 1998.

The Agreement is a political concord aimed at bringing to an end over a quarter of a century of bitter internal hostility in Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom Government, the Government of Ireland and most of the political parties in Northern Ireland, including Sinn Fein, are signatories.

In July 1998, the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Dr Marjorie Mowlam, said,

'The early release of prisoners is one of the most difficult parts of the Good Friday Agreement. The Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act provides the framework for releases and includes important safeguards for the protection of the public. It ensures that prisoners who support organisations that have not established, or are not maintaining complete and unequivocal ceasefires will not be released early.'