Murderer Tracie Andrews has been allowed out of jail on a shopping trip to prepare for her release.
Andrews, who stabbed her fiance Lee Harvey to death and tried to pass the crime off as a road-rage attack, was temporarily released from Askham Grange open prison in Yorkshire to browse stores in York city centre on Saturday.
The Ministry of Justice does not comment on individual prisoners but when asked about Andrews' shopping trip, a spokesman said: "Release on temporary licence is used to prepare prisoners for their eventual release from custody."
He continued: "It helps to reduce the chance of reoffending by setting up appropriate employment and rehabilitation work in the community, and maintaining family contact. This is essential for successful resettlement and an important factor in protecting the public."
The spokesman said inmates usually complete several trips before their release from prison, as long as they "meet strict criteria and pass a rigorous risk assessment".
He added: "Only those assessed as representing minimal risk of escape or risk of harm to the public are eligible. Life and indeterminate-sentenced prisoners can only be allocated to open conditions by the Justice Secretary on the recommendation of the Parole Board.
"If prisoners breach their licence in any way, they will be subject to disciplinary proceedings and are likely to be moved to closed conditions."
Photographs published in a national newspaper show Andrews, 41, looking at DVDs and carrying purchases from high street fashion chain H&M. Her victim's mother Maureen, 62, said: "I did know about this. To be honest it's very upsetting and traumatic."
Andrews stabbed 25-year-old Mr Harvey 37 times as the couple made their way to their home in Alvechurch, Worcestershire, in December 1996.
She was convicted of murder in July 1997 by a jury at Birmingham Crown Court and was given a minimum 14-year life sentence.