Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Scottish Government has backed proposals by former Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini, she wants Cornton Vale women’s prison closed, another blunder!

Dear All

A mistake was made by appointing Elish Angiolini to run the Commission on Women’s Offenders.

Angiolini spent her time shoving women into Cornton Vale as a member of the Fiscal Service without a second thought.

Now, she is all ‘concerned’ about their ‘plight’ by describing the living conditions for some prisoners as “antediluvian and appalling.”

The Hilton didn’t have enough space.

Angiolini says that the Scottish Government must place emphasis on closing Scotland’s only women’s prison as soon as possible.

This won’t happen and to be blunt, cannot be allowed to happen either!

Prison serves a purpose in society to protect communities.

There is a serious debate however regarding who should be sent to prison and for how long.

It isn’t cheap sending someone to prison, it costs circa £42.k a year to lock someone up, it also means a person in prison cannot contribute to society and pay taxes.

The reality is once someone comes out of prison, they are effectively unemployable; this is another issue in a long series of problems which leaves prison as a revolving door for many people devoid of hope and aspiration.

When people have no stake in society there is no tomorrow.

What is prison when you have nothing?

It is free bed and board, no bills, Sky Telly, plenty of time for reading, educational opportunities, free dental, free medical and free gym facilities, but no pool.

Angiolini was appointed to chair the Commission on Women’s Offenders which recently reported its recommendations to the SNP Government; she said Cornton Vale, near Stirling, was “a miserable place.”

I saw a prison documentary series from her perspective, yes, it would appear to be that way, she has so much, but she doesn’t understand the mentality of those who have absolutely nothing.

And it seems her crank idea of shutting the place down has won some kind of support from Justice Secretary Kenny Mac-Askill.

He announced this week that he had asked the Scottish Prison Service to find alternatives to replace the prison.

Where’s the money coming from in these tough economic times to embark on new prison building?

It is the wrong idea at the wrong time.

So far the SNP Government has confirmed it will take forward 33 of the commission’s 37 recommendations, and consider the remaining four in more detail.

A lot of money is about to be spent by the Scottish Government that will in no way generate the results it expects to break the cycle of reoffending.

What isn’t on offer to prisoners is a future, a fresh start and a better tomorrow.

Cornton Vale should not be closed; if it can be improved then that seems a reasonable suggestion.

The real debate is how to break the cycle of reoffending, and so far I am not seeing a road map to that end.

The idea that Cornton Vale should be replaced with a smaller specialist prison for long-term and high-risk prisoners, as well as regional units to hold short-term and remand prisoners is nonsense.

The Scottish Government really don't understand the problems of these people at all in anyway shape or form.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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