Scottish Liberal Democrat conference has today backed a motion on improving outcomes for Scotland’s prisons.
The motion calls for a series of measures to boost community justice in Scotland, including calling on the Scottish Government to:
- Reinvest savings made through reducing the prison population into community-based options,
- Routinely record adverse childhood experiences, as recommended by Scottish Government advisor Sir Harry Burns;
- Make sure the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service begin fatal accident inquiries into deaths in prison within 12 months to ensure lessons that can save lives are learned;
- Make sure people have a bank account and have had their social security eligibility assessed before they leave prison, if relevant, for example through a fit to work assessment before release;
- Expand throughcare and mentoring, delivered by dedicated additional staff capable of working with people before and after they leave prison to provide continuity, alongside a new right to housing, welfare and healthcare appointments within 48 hours of release, underpinned by Housing First principles;
Commenting on the motion Liam McArthur MSP said:
“Scotland’s prisons are bursting. We are returning to the highest levels of incarceration seen since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament and this will have consequences even the “bang-em up brigade” can’t ignore.
“Packing more and more people into prison puts pressure on staff and it makes it harder to work with each person. Scotland’s prison death toll is far too high yet years on fatal accident inquiries have still not been conducted.
“This motion tackles the instinct, at every stage of the process, to imprison. It sets out how we can make community-based alternatives more robust and more credible.
“It is essential that we have measures in place that allow us to punish, rehabilitate and support without destroying what little stability someone might have. This is not just in the interests of individuals but in the interests of communities too."