Lord Cullen leads call for alternatives to jail terms
THE former head of the Scottish judiciary has suggested that some serious offenders could be allowed to escape prison.
Lord Cullen, who presided over the Dunblane and Piper Alpha inquiries, and who served as Lord President, has called for a debate on whether all serious criminals should face alternatives to jail.
He was commenting in the latest edition of Holyrood Magazine on the case of a man who hanged himself in jail after being imprisoned for dangerous driving. The man's car had earlier been involved in a fatal road accident.
Meanwhile a leading Scottish expert on penal reform has hit out at new proposals to scrap automatic early release for prisoners.
Roger Houchin, the former governor of Glasgow's Barlinnie prison, has criticised the Sentencing Commission for proposing an end to the controversial system that allows offenders to be released after as little as half their jail term.
Houchin claims that some form of early release is essential to make sure anyone allowed back into the community is supervised and subject to conditions that would see them sent back to jail if they reoffend.
The outburst came after the Sentencing Commission, which was chaired by Lord Macfadyen, a High Court judge, said that scrapping early release would ensure that sentences imposed by courts meant what they said.
Scottish Executive ministers have said that they are committed to ending automatic early release.
Houchin, now a lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University and consultant to the Council of Europe, called the document "disappointing".
"It's got some very worrying things in it - for example, that early release on home detention curfews should not be available to young people and children."
A Sentencing Commission spokesperson rejected the criticism: "The Commission is satisfied that the regime it is recommending is one that is transparent, easily comprehended and an improvement on what operates at present. "
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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