Calls for homelessness prevention plans for early release prisoners
Any plans to stop prisoners from falling into homelessness after early release must be made public, according to Scottish Labour.
In order to ease the pressures on Scotland’s overcrowded prisons during the COVID-19 pandemic, up to 450 inmates who are on short term sentences or coming to the end of their detention may be let out early.
So far, 40 inmates have been released before the end of their sentences to free up beds and stop the spread of coronavirus in Scotland’s prisons.
Scottish Labour said it is not clear what steps are being taken by the Scottish Government to make sure prisoners will have the stability and security to get their lives back on track.
It is essential that a proper transition plan is in place for each prisoner released to ensure they have secure accommodation and proper back up from support services, the party added.
According to research published by Shelter Scotland on early prison release and homelessness, people leaving prison are at high risk of homelessness for a number of reasons. They may have been homeless before entering prison or may have lost their housing as a result of being handed their sentence.
Some may have been dependent on drugs or alcohol, or may not have a support network of family and friends to support them upon their release.
Scottish Labour’s justice spokesperson, James Kelly, said: “Releasing short term prisoners to help with overcrowding during the COVID-19 crisis is the sensible thing to do – but only if the proper steps are taken to help them return to normal life.
“Access to housing through private landlords may be difficult, and sometimes it can take up to nine weeks for them to receive Universal Credit if they don’t immediately find work.
“The Scottish Government must make sure no prisoners are released into homelessness, as it is well known that the right home can help prevent reoffending.
“A comprehensive transition plan is needed for each individual prisoner. This must include a guarantee of secure accommodation and proper back up from support services. Adequate funding needs to be allocated to local councils who are crucial in ensuring prisoners are able to re-settle in local communities.”
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