A green MSP has called for extra support in the Renfrewshire community following the governments early prisoner release program in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Any prisoners released as part of efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within prisons and into the wider population must get appropriate support to reintegrate into society, the Scottish Greens have said.

Scottish Greens MSP for the West of Scotland Ross Greer welcomed the announcement that some prisoners are set to be released early as part of emergency coronavirus measures, reducing the risk of the virus spreading through the prison population & staff and in turn the wider population. These measures will not cover prisoners considered a risk to public safety and will only apply to those serving 18 months or less and in their last 3 months of their sentance.

Ross Greer MSP, said: “The Scottish Government had a difficult task to balance the rights and needs of victims, prisoners, prison staff and families, but this decision to go ahead with limited early release is the right one, with important exceptions for public safety. The hard reality is that Scotland doesn’t have enough cells for prisoners to self-isolate. Failing to act would have seen the virus spread further through the prison population & staff and as a result, throughout the wider population.

“Many prisoners are released with no home to go to. As well as housing and financial assistance, individuals often need support with addictions and both physical and mental health issues. Addressing these challenges is even more important in the current crisis.

“Renfrewshire Council and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde must work closely with the Scottish Prison Service to ensure prisoners and their families have the support needed to reintegrate into their communities during this crisis.

“Beyond immediate health needs, we know that reoffending rates are far higher amongst those who are not supported, so it’s critical this is done right.”

By Ricky Kelly

Main writer for Renfrewshire News