Ex-prisoner paints dark picture of jail

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SERVING time is not a “soft” sentence, a former prisoner told MSPs amid calls for greater access to education and activities in Scotland’s jails.

Holyrood’s Justice Committee heard yesterday that there is a “serious lack of capacity” for prisoners to engage in purposeful activities which would help them integrate back into society after their release.

The ratio of time spent on purposeful activity – such as work, vocational training, education classes, PE or visits – compared with time spent on the wing or in cells is “very much less than might be considered desirable or effective”, Pete White, co-ordinator of the charity Positive Prisons? Positive Futures, said. Mr White, a former prisoner, said access to literacy, numeracy and art classes needs to be improved.