presumption against short sentences
Vulnerable women will benefit from reforms which will encourage judges to consider community sentences above "ineffective" short prison sentences of 12 months or less, according to the Scottish government.Around 90 per cent of women sent to prison are given a custodial sentence of a year or less and Scotland has one of the highest female prison populations in Northern Europe.Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said that the controversial extension of the presumption against short prison sentences would mean more women would receive a community-based sentence.Mr Yousaf, who will give evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee on Tuesday, said: “By extending the presumption to 12 months or less we are asking judges to give serious consideration to community alternatives that prioritise rehabilitation.“Many of the women currently serving prison sentences have complex needs that contribute to frequent offending. We should be helping them tackle those problems in the community so they can escape prison’s revolving door, rather than taking away what stability they have in their home and family. “More than two thirds of female prisoners are mothers and we must not underestimate the trauma to their children of seeing their parent go to jail. From stressful home and school moves, to poor academic performance and mental health risks, parental imprisonment can trigger lifelong issues. It may even make children more likely to be drawn into the criminal justice system as adults.“With such a high proportion of women prisoners serving custodial sentences of 12 months or less, extending the presumption could have a significant impact on women in the justice system. We have an opportunity to change how we tackle the causes of offending behaviour and the positive ripple effect to our communities could be huge.”
Published 10 June 2019
A judge has warned that plans to increase the presumption against short sentences to 12 months could affect those currently sentenced to 18 months, The Herald reports.
Published 5 June 2019
Holyrood’s Justice Committee is to hold its first evidence session on a Scottish government proposal to extend the presumption against short sentences from three months or less to twelve months or less.
Published 3 June 2019
The existing presumption against short prison sentences will be extended from three to 12 months and come into force this summer, subject to the approval of the Scottish Parliament.
Published 17 May 2019
Jail terms of under six months are to be banned in England and Wales as the UK government follows Scotland's lead.
Published 19 February 2019