Scotland’s only dedicated jail for women is to close and be replaced after it was identified as inadequate.
Cornton Vale Prison will be replaced, the Scottish Government confirmed on Monday.
This is part of an overhaul of the justice system as a result of a review into female offending by a commission headed up by former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said work would start immediately to identify a replacement for the Stirling jail, which would be backed by £20m of government cash in 2014 to 2015.
Mr MacAskill added: "The commission’s recommendations are ambitious and provide a challenge, not just to the Scottish Government and to our public services more widely, but to Scottish society as a whole. But we will rise to that challenge because the current system is failing Scotland and the status quo cannot continue.
"The stark reality is highly concerning. Only 2% of women offenders were involved in serious violence last year, with the vast majority of them not posing a serious risk of harm to the public. Yet, the number of women offenders in prison has doubled in the last decade, despite crime falling.
"Many of these women are in and out of prison time and time again, often on short sentences for minor offences, and the negative effects can be seen in communities up and down the country. Many are being kept on remand when the courts do not see the need to give them a custodial sentence in the end. Re-offending rates upon release are unacceptably high, and the effects on family members can be devastating. The evidence shows that this can be a catalyst for their sons or daughters to turn to a life of crime themselves."
Mr MacAskill described the current set up as a "vicious circle" for women offenders, and also backed other recommendations from the report released earlier this year.
- Replacement for female prison Cornton Vale 'cannot be magicked out the air'
- Scotland's only female jail Cornton Vale 'should be demolished'
- Cornton Vale prison: overcrowded, cold meals and a two-hour wait for the toilet
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