Prisons chief calls for end of shorter prison terms
The chief inspector of prisons in Scotland has called for jail terms of less than a year to be abolished.
David Strang said there should be a “more creative approach” to sentencing than locking people up for short periods.
He advocated community-based options, saying the evidence shows short prison terms do not cut crime.
Speaking to the BBC, he said: “The evidence is very clear that if you want to reduce crime then you do not send people to prison for a short time.
“People who are released from a short sentence of less than 12 months, over half of them are reconvicted within a year.
“I would have thought that one purpose of the criminal justice system is to prevent future crimes, to reduce reoffending and that if you send someone to prison then the damage that that does leads to them reoffending more than if you had given them an alternative.”
Community sentences he backed included fines and payback orders.
Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr warned against intruding into judge discretion.
“Short-term prison sentences can play an important role in our justice system and it would be ludicrous to end them,” he said.
The Scottish judicial system already presumes against imposing sentences below three months since 2010.
The SNP administration is consulting on whether to extend that to a year.
The Scottish Government says the prison population is “unacceptably high” and is focusing more attention on community sentences.
A spokesman insisted custodial terms are “absolutely justified” for some crimes.