Scottish Prison Service


The evolution of the Scottish Prison Service

The Scottish Prison Service has evolved a great deal in the past 20 or so years from the hell hole’s Johnnyboy and his peers endured. Indeed it could be argued that the protest’s and riot’s in Peterhead, Barlinnie and other prison’s in the 80’s drew attention to the harsh and brutal regimes that were designed to break the spirit doing untold physcological damage to the inmates and prison officers who had to enforce these regimes and deal  with the backlash from the inmates.

Having a toilet is always a bonus no matter where you are is always a bonus and the fact chamber pots and the ‘slopping out’  regime ran in some of the Scottish Prison System up until the year 2000 is testament to how far we were behind the rest of the civilized world in the treatment of our prisoners.

The latest mantra from the Scottish Prison Service is ‘Unlocking potential , changing lives’. This  sounds good and looks good for the public but anyone who has spent anytime in prison will tell you that this is far from the truth and our prisons are badly overcrowded with very little or no rehabilitation for short term offenders.

There are two private run prisons in the Scottish Prison Services estate both are run under SPS rules and are contracted to the Scottish Prison Service for a certain time frame. HMP Kilmarnock is a working prison where the inmates are encouraged to attend the work sheds and work.  This could and should have a positive effect on inmates in the sense of instilling a work ethic and routine where there once was chaos and an unhealthy lifestyle. Also within HMP Kilmarnock there is an educaution department with a number of services.

The throughcare in HMP Kilmarnock is run by the Catalyst project which is under the ‘Centerstage Communities ‘ umbrella , this model i feel should be rolled out all across the SPS estate , their reoffending rates with those who engage with this service speaks for itself , and i cannot commend this service and organisation enough.


HMP Addiewell is run under the rules of it being an education focused with the onus being on the prisoner to educate themselves and by doing this empower themselves to make positive changes in the future.

These Prisons being private are run for profit and this fact alone makes me sick as the bottom line is they are ‘Trading in flesh’ , incarceration to the owners of these companies is business and are not being run as the owners have big social consciences.

Ultimately our prisons are over populated with people that shouldn’t be in there in the first place and would be better helped in our communites .

Someone being imprisoned for the first time to 6 months say would be stripped of their house , their job and liberated 3 month’s later to try and rebuild this. More than likely liberated to a hostel or to sofa-surf in family and friends homes.

Put quite simply and writing from experience there is no rehabilitation for short term offenders and our prisons are horrible over crowded places filled with drugs and violence , the Scottish Prison Service has to be commended for the in-roads they are making in throughcare but the need for throughcare would  be less if our sentencing laws were changed and our judges educated in the effects and repurcussions prison has on people.

Im not saying there is not a need for prisons, of course there is, people do bad shit BUT, the amount of people we incarcerate for minor offences is both shocking and uncalled for and i feel the blame lies squarely with our courts, not the Scottish Prison Service.

Jimmy Boyle

Non violent drug offenders worldwide are being indoctrinated in prison culture and becoming violent and more entrenched in a criminal lifestyle due to prisons being for profit and crazy decisions at court level, i have wrote more about this subject here https://johnnyboysteele.com/drug-addiction-treatment-centers/

Yes the Scottish Prison Service has evolved  for the good since the days of Johnnyboy and his peers protests and escapes, but if the SPS can’t cope with the sheer numbers of people being jailed all the positive changes i fear are just propaganda and foder for the Right wing to say we are making more liberal changes whilst they are filling the prisons up with our sons,daughters,friends and such to profit their rich and powerful friends.

Johnny told me about a visit to the Barlinnie  Special unit from a Swedish delegation and i feel we need to look to Sweden and take on their approach to criminal justice and rehabilitation, indeed Sweden are shutting  some of their prisons down !!

Simply put i feel our prisons should be there to rehabilitate not make matters worse.

This article was  written for Johnnyboysteele.com by Danny Cafferkey(admin)

Rehabilitation through the arts




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