Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP has called for a new push to ensure that links between prisoners and their families can be preserved, after he visited Polmont prison.
Mr McArthur was visiting HMYOI Polmont as part of Families Outside's ‘Send your MSP to Prison’ campaign. The campaign aims to help policy makers understand the challenges of prison visits from a family perspective, with MSPs taking public transport and visiting a prison which accommodates people from their area
Commenting after the visit, Mr McArthur said:
"Maintaining family ties is a basic necessity for most of those who are in prison. Visits and other types of contact play an important role in reducing the likelihood of family breakdown, improving mental health and also helping bear down on reoffending rates.
"The Scottish Government needs to consider how family bonds might be maintained and, where possible, strengthened, especially for those serving their sentences a long way from home. This is the best way of helping to ensure that everyone leaving prison has the best chance of reintegrating into the community after their release.
"We also urgently need to look at how community based measures are provided across the country so that we can make headway in reducing the use of remand, which remains stubbornly high. This is particularly important in the context of the planned introduction of a presumption against prison sentences of less than 12 months. We know that 60% of people given short-term sentences re-offend within a year of release, whereas robust community-based sentences are far more successful. This demonstrates the benefit to individuals, families and, very importantly, to communities”