Hardened Criminals Might Be Sent to ‘Soft-Touch’ Prisons in Scotland

Due to an overcrowding situation, a prison watchdog has recommended the transfer of more criminals—including those serving life sentences for murder—to other facilities, including what are known as “soft-touch” prisons.

Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland, Wendy Sinclair-Gieben, believes that more open prisons and jails—where prisoners have the keys to their cells—should be used.

Sinclair-Gieben said that allowing inmates to interact with the community while incarcerated in less secure settings will better prepare a more significant proportion of inmates for release. The 600 inmates who were interviewed for the Chief Inspector’s evaluation provided some of the information that was included in the report. Many inmates, not surprisingly, voiced their displeasure with the length of time it takes to be moved to an open jail.

The study was released before over 500 convicts were freed early. They were released on Wednesday after SNP ministers approved controversial plans. As a result of this decision, the Scottish Government was criticized for allegedly disobeying court orders and neglecting to assist victims.

Justice Secretary Angela Constance stated that the substantial growth in the prison population, which led to jail congestion, necessitated the release of 514 offenders. The scheme, which will release the first set of offenders in four phases starting on June 26, was backed by both the Scottish Greens and the Nationals.

The Scottish Conservatives’ justice spokesperson, Russell Findlay, stressed the significance of carefully weighing the possible hazards connected to a greater use of open jails. In view of past cases of absconding, he voiced worry about the SNP’s jail issue and the necessity of giving public safety a top priority.

In 2022, the justice secretary argued in favor of a new jail with no bars on the windows. At the time, these were dubbed “smart jails.”

The 1,700-seat jail will include features such as table tennis, snooker, a gym, and free tablets.