25 Sep 2012
Offenders should be made to work or be educated while in jail, Scotland’s chief inspector of prisons has said.
His remarks came after Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said finding work for inmates was a “win-win” situation.
Brigadier Hugh Munro , in his annual report, said work for offenders in prison would cut reoffending, after figures released today show that 45 per cent of those released from jail have committed a crime within a year.
He said without productive activity in prisons “there is much less likelihood of them being prepared for release back into the community”.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP said:
“Work for prisoners is a win-win situation – they will be better equipped to make a return to society, while Scotland in general would benefit from a lower rate of reoffending.
“We cannot continue waving people out of prison at the end of a sentence, knowing full well they will be back in no time at all.
“It is also an insult to victims that inmates are being allowed to sit around watching satellite television all day when instead they could be repaying their crimes in a more constructive way, particularly bearing in mind it costs £31,000 a year per prisoner.
“I’m pleased that these recommendations have been made that chime so closely with our own policy on the issue.”
Notes to Editors
For more information on Brigadier Munro’s remarks, visit:
Justice policy: Rehabilitation of prisoners
*Currently, all convicted prisoners on long term sentences (37%) in Scotland are supposed to work, although the Scottish Prison Service counts attending group therapy or rehabilitation classes as work.
Further, there is no legal requirement for the Scottish Prison Service to offer employment or education services to short-term prisoners, (73%) which form the majority of the prison population.
The average prison engages in only 56 minutes of development activity (education, training, PE or work placements) a day.
The Scottish Conservatives want to see if this can be extended to the thousands who are not involved in any kind of work.
* The Prison with the best record of prisoner employment is the new Low Moss Prison in Bishopbriggs in Glasgow, which has six workshops offering a range of employment opportunities.
Power is switched off in cells during the day when prisoners are expected to work or attend classes from 9am to 5pm and TVs are also turned off at 1am to ensure prisoners are fit for work in the morning.
This is the first time a full-time working culture has been put at the heart of a Scottish Prison.
Low Moss should be the starting point for getting more prisoners out of their cells and into work.
*The goal should be to create a proper working week, with prisoners working 9-5 and there is no reason why private firms should not be given the chance to bid for this to ensure prison work is sustainable and self-financing.
Prisoners could be paid the minimum wage, but after tax and national insurance, money could go to a victims’ fund; towards their rehabilitation in the outside world; child maintenance and outstanding court fines.
*Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has already visited the Wise Group, which offers rehabilitation programmes in prison and has found that supporting one reoffending prisoner into employment saved the public purse around £940,000 over a 5 year period.