A senior Scottish judge has announced that Scotland’s justice system should take a more civilised approach to sentencing, and place more weight on rehabilitation rather than retribution.
Currently, judges are not entitled to determine what rehabilitation measures can be put in place after sentencing offenders but Lord Carloway, Scotland’s second most influential judge, said that the present system was stigmatising offenders, and did nothing to support their reintegration into society. Instead, the focus is on retribution served to isolate and subjugate offenders, he said. The reforms will be presented in detail when the new justice body, the Scottish Sentencing Council, is eventually created.
The idea of a major overhaul of sentencing guidelines was announced during Lord Carloway’s speech at the Playfair Library in Edinburgh. Addressing policy makers, lawyers, and judges attending a conference held by the community safety body Sacro, he pointed out that the reform would not result in more lenient sentences to those who are already in jail, and would not mean judges will be instructed to reduce sentences on a general basis. Under planned changes, each case will be looked at individually, and sentences will be decided on a case-by-case basis, the Scotsman informed.
Lord Carloway, who is going to head the Scottish Sentencing Council, stressed the fact that the Scottish government reports indicate that the public supports changes to the sentencing system, with many members of communities backing lower sentences and more rehabilitation measures.