Lib Dems urge action on short prison sentences

The Scottish Liberal Democrats today urged the Scottish Government to commit to a new presumption against short prison sentences of less than 12 months, alongside its announcement of £4 million extra for community sentences

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP highlighted that an increased presumption would go hand in hand with effective resourcing of community-based sentences, helping give Sheriffs confidence in robust alternatives to prison.

He commented: “The cost of short-term prison sentences is huge and we can’t ignore around half of those given these sentences reoffend within a year of release. That is why the announcement of extra money for community sentences is welcome but this needs to be just the start of the Scottish Government’s commitment to reforming the culture of our penal system for men and women.

“Community sentences require people to give back to the communities they have harmed while developing new skills, meaning they are less likely to reoffend. These are proven to be more effective than enforced idleness at reducing crime and helping people get back on track.

“A new presumption against prison sentences of less than 12 months would go hand in hand with more money for alternative disposals to prison, giving Sheriffs full confidence in these options and helping end the reliance on ineffective short term stints behind bars.”

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