THE former Chief Inspector for HM Prisons in Scotland has said prison visitor centres are “the single best investment for reducing crime”.
Speaking at the General Assembly this morning, Very Reverend Dr Andrew McLellan told commissioners that such facilities are “astonishingly outcome driven and productive”.
The former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: “There can hardly be one more stunning statistic in criminal justice, prisoners who are able to maintain family support during their imprisonment are six times less likely to reoffend than those who have no engagement with their family and no family support.
“If you want the Cabinet Secretary for Justice to make Scotland safer, the single best investment for reducing crime, is building more prison visitor centres in prisons.”
Dr McLellan said that, for many, there was no more frightening a prospect than being at the front door of a prison for the first time, and that it was “immensely important” that the Church should be involved in meeting people at that most vulnerable stage.
He also spoke movingly about the treatment of prisoners’ children, and said Scotland should be “ashamed” for the amount of pain and stigma youngsters face.
The Church of Scotland’s social care arm, CrossReach, runs the visitor centre at HMP Perth; however, only three of Scotland’s prisons currently have these vital initiatives.
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