‘Alternative’ prison to be built on health centre site
SCOTLAND’S first ‘alternative prison’ for women is to be built in Maryhill.
The Scottish Government has announced the plans as part of their efforts to reduce reoffending.
It will be one of two Community Custody Units to be opened in Scotland, with the Maryhill site managing ‘lower-risk female prisoners’ who will stay in the venue.
Dundee will also accommodate one of the units.
The CCU will be based on the site of the former Maryhill Health Centre and will provide facilities for around 20 women and is due to be open by the end of 2020.
The women who will serve their custodial sentence in the CCU will be appropriately assessed as suitable for serving out this part of their sentence closer to their community and with greater community access.
The announcement was made yesterday afternoon by Cabinet secretary for Justice Michael Matheson, who argued that short prison sentences should only be given out when there are no other options available.
He told the Scottish Parliament that evidence shows more than half of those released from prison after 12 months or less are reconvicted within a year, compared to a third of those who had served a community sentence.
He said: “A just, equitable and inclusive society is one that is supported by a progressive evidence-based justice system; a system which works with communities to reduce – and ultimately prevent – further offending.
“A system which holds individuals to account for their offending, but ultimately supports them to make positive contributions.
“Over the past decade this Government has taken steps to end our reliance on custody and move towards effective community sentences.”
Along with the two new units, the Scottish Parliament also plans to give more powers to courts to use electronic tags in community sentences.
The Government argues that the positive benefits of tagging include helping women in domestic violence cases and allowing people with mental health problems and physical issues to continue to be treated within the community.
Mr Matheson said: “Electronic Monitoring is already an important tool in the delivery of justice. It carries a punitive element and offers a range of options to improve public protection, while allowing an individual to maintain their employment and family links.
“When used to enforce curfew conditions, it can provide stability to those whose offending is part and parcel of a chaotic lifestyle.”
Colin McConnell, SPS Chief Executive said he wants the Community Custody Units to be a real part of the communities that they are in. He added:”We relish the opportunity of working with council colleagues in Glasgow and Dundee to develop radical new ways of caring and supporting those women who have found themselves within the criminal justice system.”
Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “The siting of a local Community Custody Unit in the city will help reduce re-offending as the women in the unit will be closer to their families and communities, and they will have access to the high-quality support services we have in Glasgow.”
The former Maryhill Health Centre on Shawpark Street, which is to become the site of a Women’s Detention Centre Pictures: Kirsty Anderson
The health centre site will be Scotland’s first ‘alternative’ prison