Sentencing and the allure of imprisonment: why rehabilitation should not be a ground for custodial sentencing

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


The Scottish Prison Service is transforming itself by focusing more on rehabilitation. This is a welcome development. Yet there is an unintended consequence of that transformation: custody may become a more alluring sentencing option. Against a background of increasing cuts to budgets for community-based services, this creates a serious risk that more non-dangerous people will end up going to prison, not because the seriousness of their offending requires it, but because of a benign desire to address their needs. To preclude this unintended consequence the first step is to enunciate publicly two clear principles. The first should clarify that the decision to imprison hinges on the seriousness of offending. The second principle should spell out that no one should be sent to custody for the specific purpose of rehabilitation, unless warranted by the seriousness of offending.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationScottish Justice Matters
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sep 2015


  • sentencing
  • Imprisonment
  • penal policy

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