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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 May 2006, 09:44 GMT 10:44 UK
Extended home leave for prisoners
Noranside Prison
Only low risk prisoners will be allowed out under the scheme
Inmates at an open prison are being freed for a week each month under a new extended home leave scheme.

The move at Noranside Prison in Angus will be introduced from next week by the Scottish Prison Service.

The prison, near Forfar, currently houses about 140 long-term prisoners, including murderers and rapists.

SPS chiefs stressed that prisoners will be subject to a rigorous risk assessment before being eligible for seven days' home leave.

Only those who are classed as being low risk will be allowed out.

It is hoped longer leave periods will allow prisoners to better integrate with the community on their release, through having more contact with families, social workers or arranging job interviews.

'Improve' prison conditions

About 30 prisoners will be released next Wednesday as part of the new scheme, which if successful could also be extended to Scotland's other open prison, Castle Huntly near Dundee.

Currently home leave visits are three days, with inmates freed over weekends.

An SPS spokesman said: "Instead of having a three-day home leave period, prisoners will be released from Wednesday to Wednesday.

"But it will only be those prisoners who have been deemed appropriate for this after a risk assessment."

The spokesman added: "We hope this will improve prison conditions by allowing prisoners to establish better relationships with their families.

"It will also allow them to arrange job interviews and see social workers or housing staff to make arrangements for their release.

"It will give them the opportunity to engage more with the support that they will need when they are released."

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