Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie and justice spokesperson Liam McArthur have today said that they will provide the majority the SNP need to end 12 month jail sentences after Scotland's chief inspector of prisons came out in public yesterday in support of the move.
Mr McArthur said:
“Short term sentences are incredibly destructive, with more than half reoffending within a year of release. All the evidence shows that community-based justice programmes and diversion-from-prosecution projects are far more successful in reducing reoffending and healing communities than short stints in prison.
"Liberal Democrats will use our votes in Holyrood to support these measures if the SNP bring them forward. The SNP Government can have a majority in Parliament if they take this sensible step.
"We don't need the support of the reactionary Conservatives or the muddled Labour Party to get this through. The Liberal Democrats will step up to vote this into law.
Willie Rennie said:
“Liberal Democrats have always stood for progressive and sensible penal reform that works to cut crime more effectively than any hard line approach.
"Of course there will be some for whom prison is the only option. For them we need our prison system to provide more meaningful training and education, as well as effective support when they are released. This would represent a good start towards meaningful and long overdue penal reform.
“Four prisons in Scotland were running at over 100% occupancy in 2016 and a third of people behind bars are on short term sentences. The Scottish Government launched a consultation over a year ago to explore options to strengthen the presumption against short term sentences and despite bodies such as HMIPS supporting the end to the practice the SNP are sitting on their hands.
“It is time to end the pointless punitive approach and be led by what works for offenders and communities, bringing our justice system firmly into the 21st century. It is time the Cabinet Secretary pulled the plug on damaging short stints in prison. Scottish Liberal Democrats will support the Scottish Government and will provide the majority they need to get this important reform passed.”