A replacement for Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow is expected by 2025, a Scottish Parliament committee has heard.
The justice secretary, along with Colin McConnell, chief executive of the Scottish Prison Service, told the Justice Committee on Tuesday that a deal to buy land for the new superjail was “in its final stages”.
In 2018, the Scottish Government announced plans to sell the current site, which was opened in 1882, and re-locate to another area in Glasgow or its surroundings.
In response to a question from Glasgow MSP James Kelly, Mr McConnell said: “We’re in the final knockings, the final stages to buy the land on which to build the new Barlinnie.”
Mr McConnell also said the Scottish Government had agreed to fully fund the current plans.
He said: “I’m delighted to say that the Scottish Government has given us every indication that the forward plan for Barlinnie, now that we effectively have somewhere to build it, will be fully funded.
“We expect, with a fair wind, that we should have a new Barlinnie by the end of 2024, perhaps 2025.”
A presentation was made to the Scottish Government in 2011 for the replacement of Barlinnie and work has been ongoing since that time to secure a suitable site on which to build.
Mr McConnell said: “It would be easy to simply point the finger at the Scottish Government and perhaps ourselves and see we’re clearly not very good at what we’re doing.
“But as ever, it’s more complex than that. It has actually taken us that length of time to identify a site that someone was prepared to sell us and which we thought was suitable to buy.
“Here we are, eight years down the line and it’s taken us that length of time to get a site.”
In a later session, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said he had “grave concern” about the current state of Barlinnie.
He said: “What I have asked my officials to do with SPS as to whether or not there are some interim measures we can potentially look at around making sure the estate is in a better condition.
“I’m happy once we’ve done that piece of work – we’re in the middle of doing it – to provide the committee with a bit more detail.
“Because I have visited Barlinnie and I am not satisfied that it meets our expectations of what we would expect in relation to the prison estate.”