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McArthur: Prisons are bursting at the seams

February 8, 2017 1:00 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP has today warned that Scottish prisons are bursting at the seams after a series of parliamentary questions revealed that four prisons in Scotland were running at over 100% occupancy in 2016.

Statistics acquired through parliamentary questions revealed that Addiewell, Barlinnie, Inverness and Kilmarnock have occupancy rates that are 100% or higher.

Barlinnie is operating at 118% of its capacity. Meanwhile, a further six prisons are running at more than 95% of their capacity.

Commenting, Mr McArthur said:

"These figures show that our prisons are bursting at the seams with a number of them running over 100% occupancy.

"Prison capacities are set for a reason. Beyond that these facilities become inherently more dangerous, staff are stretched and it is harder for them to work closely with those they are tasked with effectively rehabilitating. That isn't good for staff, prisoners or the communities they return to.

"A third of those behind bars are there because of ineffective short-term sentences. All the evidence shows that those sent to prison for a short time are the most likely to reoffend.

"That is why Liberal Democrats want to see the introduction of a new presumption against short term sentences of less than 12 months, accompanied by the roll-out of more robust community sentences.

"This would significantly ease the pressure on our prison system, provide more meaningful training and education, and give staff the time they need to ensure more offenders are properly rehabilitated ahead of their release.

"It is time SNP ministers brought our prison estate into the 21st century."