11 Dec 2012
An inquiry is to be launched into giving work and vocational courses to Scotland’s prison population.
The announcement by the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee follows calls by the Scottish Conservatives to introduce the move in a bid to reduce reoffending and make more use of prisoners’ time inside.
The committee will now gather evidence from a range of organisations and individuals before discussing the matter at a later date.
Under proposals previously unveiled by the Scottish Conservatives, inmates would be paid a wage to work full-time in jail, but that pay would be docked to contribute to a victim support fund, and pay for outstanding fines and child maintenance.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP said:
“It’s good to see the Scottish Parliament follow calls from the Scottish Conservatives to investigate this idea.
“There are no losers in this proposal; prisoners would learn skills and improve their own rehabilitation, while enhancing their chances of securing work once they are released.
“And with it costing upwards of £30,000 a year to accommodate a prisoner, this plan would go some way towards getting value for money on that spend.
“If prisoners are simply stewing in their cells or communal areas all day, that is doing nothing for their mental health or their prospects.
“If anything, it makes returning to jail a significantly less daunting prospect, not the effective deterrent it should be.
“The Scottish Government has the power to make this work, and the sooner it does the better.”