McArthur welcomes HMIPS recommendation to end short-term sentences

Scottish Liberal Democrat spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP has called on the Scottish Government to extend the presumption against short sentences from 3 to 12 months and act on the recommendation of HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland.

In his annual report, published today, David Strang said “there are still many people being sentenced to a term of imprisonment”, adding that he would welcome the extension to the presumption against short term sentences. He also said “there is still more that we all need to do to ensure that prisoners are supported well when they return to their community at the end of the sentence.”

Mr McArthur commented:

“The Scottish Government launched a consultation over a year ago to explore options to strengthen the presumption against short term sentences. Instead of sitting on their hands, ministers need to commit to extending the presumption to 12 months – the option backed by HMIPS and the Scottish Liberal Democrats. 

“We can’t ignore the fact that thousands of people each year are still given ineffective and destructive short-term sentences, 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. 

“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 will give people the means to get on in life and reduce the chance of people being put back behind bars.

“This would represent a good start towards meaningful and long overdue penal reform.”

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