A total of 43 life prisoners were released from jail on parole last year, it has been revealed
The figures were contained in the Parole Board for Scotland's annual report for 2011-12.
The board determines if prisoners who are no longer regarded as presenting a risk to public safety can serve out the remainder of their sentence in the community, under the supervision of a social worker.
It only gives the go-ahead to release prisoners in cases where the level and nature of risk is deemed to be manageable.
There were 242 cases brought before the board in 2011-12 for it to consider if life prisoners should be released or not, with 43 prisoners whose release was directed.
In 146 cases prisoners were not recommended for release while a number of other cases were either postponed or adjourned. There was also one case where the prisoner died before release could be considered and two cases where the person concerned was given another sentence.
Parole Board chairman Sandy Cameron, whose time in the role concludes this month, said there had been a "significant reduction in cases referred to the board for consideration of breaches of licence conditions".
He said: "Whilst the board routinely deals with the worst behaviour our communities experience, it also has an opportunity to observe the very real progress some prisoners make through their time in custody thanks to the opportunities they are given to learn skills and to understand what motivates their offending behaviour.
"Many of these prisoners are able to return to a crime-free life and to begin to be positively contributing members of society. Regrettably, of course, many are not able to make the necessary change or to sustain change often because of their own disadvantaged history.
"In these cases it is the board's responsibility to ensure that every possible step is taken to limit risk. I do believe that Scotland's communities can feel assured that their best interests underpin the decisions which the board takes day in and day out but always with great care."