Briefing: The Scottish Lib Dems on Prisons

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It would seem that the Scottish Liberal Democrats have been reading my blog! Following on from my post last week on Michael Gove's justice reforms they have announced their opposition to jail terms less than a year.

At the moment, judges in Scotland are discouraged from sentencing people to less than three months in prison - instead saying community sentences should be used. The Scottish Lib Dems are proposing extending this to one year.

This is an excellent idea, nearly 60% of people sentenced to prison for three months or less are reconvicted within a year and the cost of processing these people is fairly high. Many will also not complete their full sentence. Community sentences will reduce the offending rate and the cost to the taxpayer.

Some may criticise the Scottish Lib Dems for being soft on crime - but this is far from the case. Prison, first and foremost, is for people who are dangerous, anyone who is sentenced to less than a year in prison is unlikely to be a danger. Second, a community order allows the criminal to give back to society, atoning for the crime committed - instead of simply locking them in a cell. Reducing the prison population will help to reduce crime not increase it.

This is an excellent policy decision by the Scottish Lib Dems and I hope the main party adopts it.

As always, let me know your opinions by commenting below or tweeting me.

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Image Credits:
Michael Gove - Source: Policy Exchange
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