Page last updated at 11:46 GMT, Thursday, 15 March 2012

Lib Dems: Prisons debate

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Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Alison McInnes told MSPs that reconviction rates in Scotland were too high, too consistent and were "more or less the same as 13 years ago when the parliament opened", on 15 March 2012.

Ms McInnes was leading a debate on the rehabilitation of prisoners and in particular she was highlighting Social Impact Bonds, where investors get paid a return for successful projects.

These are being used to tackle reoffending in Peterborough Prison.

The Liberal Democrat MSP said whilst she didn't seek to reward people for committing crimes it was only right to give them a chance to better themselves.

She called on Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to pilot the Social Impact Bond model as a new approach to prison rehabilitation and reducing reoffending.

Mr MacAskill said "I will look at the matters referred to by Alison McInnes and will return to her" and that he would undertake to look at the good work being tried in Peterbourogh.

The Justice Secretary said since coming to power in 2007 the Scottish government had been working to tackle reoffending.

He highlighted the introduction of community payback orders which he said were an effective alternative to short term prison sentences.

Mr MacAskill also said that in the newly opened Low Moss prison offenders were expected to be "working or engaged in other useful activities" for 35 hours per week.

Labour Justice Spokesperson Lewis Macdonald said the real question was whether new models of support could help to deliver real change and how their success could be measured.

Mr Macdonald also said reoffending was a complex issue and that closeness to home and family for prisoners was important.

Conservative Justice Spokesperson David McLetchie said Ms McInnes had highlighted an imaginative approach.

Mr McLetchie said an essential part of rehabilitation was assisting prisoners to tackle their problems with drink and drug addictions and education short falls as part of "the road to redemption and rehabilitation".

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