Prison reform was in the spotlight in the Scottish Parliament this week.
Scotland’s prison population was 7,464 for the year 2017/2018 with 6,103 out of that total having been sentenced. It has been decreasing year on year since a high of 8,179 in 2011/12. annual_prison_population_v4
Local MSP John Finnie, Justice spokesperson for the Scottish Greens has called on the Scottish Government to provide adequate funding to local authorities if it is serious about reducing Scotland’s prison population.
Questioning the Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf, in the Scottish Parliament on the 15th of January John Finnie highlighted that local authorities play a significant role in managing many of the alternatives to prison including restriction on liberty orders, drug and treatment testing orders, and community payback orders, yet the Scottish Government has proposed a cut to local government funding in its draft budget.
John Finnie said:
“The evidence is clear that short sentences lead to an increase in reoffending. That’s why Scottish Greens fully support a presumption against short sentences with a requirement that robust, well-resourced alternatives to custody are put in place if we are to see the transformative change and reduced prison population required.
“Many alternatives to custodial sentences are managed by Criminal Justice Social Workers, employed by local councils. If the Scottish Government is serious about reducing criminality and tackling the crisis of overcrowding in our prisons, it must ensure that it adequately funds the alternatives.
“However the Cabinet Secretary wishes to count things, local authorities are facing an unacceptable cut in the Scottish Government’s draft budget.”
The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) is an agency of the Scottish Government and was first established in 1993. It is funded by the Scottish Government.
As at 31st March 2018 there were 13 publicly managed prisons and two privately managed prisons (HMPs Addiewell and Kilmarnock).