The Commission on women offenders report has been launched today, 17th April 2012.
The Commission makes 37 recommendations under the headings of (i) service redesign (ii) alternatives to prosecution (iii) alternatives to remand (iv) sentencing (v) prisons (vi) community reintegration and (viii) making it work (leadership, structures and delivery).
It advocates the replacement of Scotland’s prison for women – Cornton Vale – with a “smaller specialist prison for those women offenders serving a statutory defined long-term sentence and those who present a significant risk to the public”.
In order to divert many vulnerable women with mental health problems from prison it also proposes alternatives to prosecution, remand and changes to sentencing.
This will include the pilot of a problem solving court for “repeat offenders with multiple and complex needs who commit lower level crimes”. The pilot scheme will be run for both male and female offenders.
The report also suggests the establishment of a new national service – the Community Justice Service – “to commission, provide and manage adult offender services in the community.”
The report also makes recommendations on community reintegration covering access to safe accommodation and establishing effective throughcare and aftercare services.
Commenting on the report, Dame Eilish Angiolini, Chair of the Commission, said
“We no longer can ignore the significant cost to society of locking up women, the majority of whom have committed offences while suffering from addiction, trauma or mental health problems. In my 28 years as a prosecutor, I saw at first hand the tragic impact of women offending and re-offending on their victims, the local community, their families and themselves.” Scotsman newspaper 16/4/12