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WHAT’S IN A SENTENCE? – AN INTERVIEW WITH THE CABINET SECRETARY FOR JUSTICE

WHAT’S IN A SENTENCE? - AN INTERVIEW WITH THE CABINET SECRETARY FOR JUSTICE
BY MARGARET SMITH, Policy, Planning & Development Officer, Community Justice Glasgow

At Community Justice Glasgow, our purpose is to co-ordinate and lead a collaborative partnership to ensure that we have the right systems in place, infrastructure, resources and tools available to tackle the root causes of offending behaviour, ensuring that the right services are available, at the right time, at every point of the justice journey, and that all of our citizens have an opportunity to flourish and lead a life that makes a positive contribution to our City. We work towards delivery against the themes set out in our own Community Justice Outcome Improvement Plan 2018-23 and the national outcomes set out in the National Strategy for Community Justice.

Throughout this Annual Report you can read many articles that bring to life the story of how we are delivering against our local themes and priorities and some of the personal stories and journeys that demonstrate the impact that our efforts have on people – our citizens of Glasgow.

These efforts help to deliver the national vision of:

Scotland as a safer, fairer and more inclusive nation where we prevent and reduce further offending by addressing its underlying causes; and  safely and effectively manage and support those who have committed offences to help them reintegrate into the community and realise their potential for the benefit of all citizens.

As you will see as you journey through the Annual Report, there are many elements that make up Community Justice. One of, if not the key tool, in delivering on this vision, is alternatives to prosecution and Custodial Sentences such as Community Payback Orders and Diversion from Prosecution.  You can read more about these in the Themes & Priorities tab.

I took the opportunity to ask the Cabinet Secretary for Justice in Scotland – Humza Yousaf a few key questions from his own perspective, around the theme of What’s in a Sentence?:

  1. What in your opinion should be the most important outcome of a court sentence following a conviction?
  1. In a sentence, if you could give only one message to the general public about community alternatives to prosecution or a custodial sentences, what would it be?
  1. When is Prison the right option?
  1. Some would say that Community Options fall short of meeting the needs of Victims – what reassurance would you give to counter this argument?
  1. Tax payers fund the Criminal Justice System – what would you say to them about the value for money of Community Sentences over a prison sentence?

For me there is a very clear and consistent message that I took from the responses to the questions – It is not about ‘Soft’ or ‘Hard’ Justice but rather being ‘smart about justice’.  If we invest in what works to prevent those who have committed a crime offending again, rather than increase the risk that they will, then every part of society wins.  Most importantly, the number of victims of crime will be reduced.

Click on the Video Link Below to hear his responses.

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