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Scottish Labour calls on SNP to ensure early release prisoners are protected from homelessness

SCOTTISH LABOUR called on the SNP government today to ensure that prisoners who are released early during the coronavirus crisis are protected from homelessness.

Up to 450 inmates who are on short-term sentences or are coming to the end of their detention may be let out early in order to ease pressure on Scotland’s overcrowded prisons during the coronavirus pandemic.

So far, 40 inmates have been released before the end of their sentences to free up beds and stop the spread of Covid-19 in the country’s jails.

The Scottish government has not yet made clear what steps are being taken to make sure prisoners will have the stability and security to get their lives back on track.

Scottish Labour’s justice spokesman James Kelly said that 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.”

He said: “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.”

Mr Kelly said a “comprehensive transition plan” was needed for each individual prisoner. 

“This must include a guarantee of secure accommodation and proper back-up from support services,” he said.

“Adequate funding needs to be allocated to local councils, who are crucial in ensuring prisoners are able to resettle in local communities.”

People leaving prisons are at high risk of homelessness for a number of reasons, according to research by the charity Shelter Scotland.

They may have been homeless before entering prison or may have lost their housing as a result of being handed their sentence.

Some people may also have been dependent on drugs or alcohol, or may not have a support network of friends and family to support them upon their release, the charity warned.

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