Custodial sentences

Very few prisoners escape from Scottish prisons. Highly trained staff and modern security systems mean the chances of escape are minimal.

There are, on occasion, media reports of prisoners absconding from Castle Huntly open prison. However, absconding or failing to return to prison is not the same as escaping. The SPS, therefore, is effective in keeping offenders in prison.

Care of offenders

The SPS has a duty of care to offenders. Prisoners should be treated in a humane manner. In prison, offenders are properly fed, clothed and kept clean. They are provided with medical care when required.

Offenders are given the chance to undertake meaningful employment, gain education and exercise. Therefore, it can be argued, the SPS do provide a humane, supportive environment for offenders to serve their sentences.

Reducing re-offending

According to the Scottish Government, in 2012/2013, 50 per cent of offenders went on to reoffend after being released from prison. While this figure is high, there has been a reduction in reoffending rates from a high of 60 per cent in 2008/09.

There are many reasons to explain high rates of re-offending. These include:

  • Too many offenders are serving short sentences of less than 6 months. Most are returned to their community without having their problems, such as alcohol or drug addiction, addressed
  • Scottish prisons are overcrowded and there are not enough opportunities for offenders to take up meaningful employment or education

Value for money

Scottish prisons are well run and highly efficient. In this sense, they do represent value for money. However, with judges continuing to send greater numbers of offenders to prison the cost of running prisons has increased. Annually, the cost of keeping an offender in jail is over £30,000.