IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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"Scotland's Choice" - report of the Scottish Prisons Commission

1st July 2008

The report of the Scottish Prisons Commission examines the use of imprisonment in Scottish society and makes recommendations for a radical overhaul of current policies.

The report observes that:

  • Scotland imprisons more of its people than many other places in Europe.
  • The prison population has increased in every year of this century; it is projected to reach 8,700 inmates by 2016.
  • Increased use of prisons is the result of using it for those who are troubled and troubling rather than dangerous.
  • Prisons draw their inmates from the least well-off communities.
  • High prison populations do not reduce crime; they are more likely to create pressures that drive reoffending than to reduce it.

The recommendations by Scotland's Choice  include:

  • Imprisonment should be reserved for people whose offences are so serious that no other form of punishment will do and for those who pose a threat of serious harm to the public.
  • Paying back in the community should become the default position in dealing with less serious offenders.
  • The establishment of a National Sentencing Council and a National Community Justice Council, with a view to radically altering current sentencing practice.
  • A target of reducing the prison population to an average daily population of 5,000.

For more information, see the report, available in pdf format above or at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/about/spc