McArthur: Prisons report demonstrates scale of rehabilitation challenge

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP has today called for the Justice Secretary to back up sentencing changes with proper resources for throughcare and robust community disposals as a new report on the prison service noted there is “a lot of work to do” to improve rehabilitation. 

The HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland's (HMIPS) annual report 2016-17 notes that “if prisons are about more than just punishment there is a lot of work to do to ensure that rehabilitation is a core outcome for the criminal justice system.” 

It also states that "the provision of throughcare services to people before and immediately after their liberation from prison remains essential to the successful reintegration back into their communities." 

Commenting on the report, Mr McArthur said: 

“HMIPS identifies a number of areas where Scotland is moving in the right direction.

"However, Scotland still has one of the largest prison populations in Europe and reoffending rates are stubbornly high. That is why it is so important that the Scottish Government proceeds to extend the presumption against short-term sentences to 12 months and properly resources community sentences which are proven to be far more effective. With the right support these have the potential to be gold standard services. 

"It is also absolutely intolerable that people are still sleeping rough after their release and even reoffending solely to find a warm bed. Throughcare should now be extended to every single prisoner, giving them support with the likes of housing, employment and healthcare, that starts inside and seamlessly continues after their release." 

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