Two schemes have been operating in Scotland providing conditional liberty to prisoners to maximise the opportunity for a safe and effective transition into society at the end of their sentence and to relieve the pressure of high prison populations. The Home Detention Curfew (HDC) Scheme was established in 2006 and enables prisoners serving mostly short sentences to serve part of their sentence in the community while adhering to a set curfew and wearing an electronic tag. Open prisons have been longer established in Scotland and consist of prisons without the secure perimeters associated with more traditional closed prisons. Prisoners cannot come and go as they please however but have the opportunity for home visits for up to a week of every month.
A report commissioned in 2010 to examine the effectiveness of the two schemes has recently been released by the Scottish Government. It found that the schemes had been effective in reducing the pressure on prisons with high populations. They also resulted in cost saving, with the average cost of HDC being £126 per week and of Open Prison approximately £372 per week (if all places were filled) in comparison to the £610 weekly cost of closed prison. Staff and prisoners also reported that they felt strongly that Open Prisons were beneficial in aiding the transition from prison to home communities. It was recommended however that greater supports and services be provided to those in the community to improve the aims of reintegration and also to reduce the risk of recall on the HDC Scheme and to maximise available resources to those in Open Prison.
Summary of the Report here
Full Report here
Law Society of Scotland Online Journal Article