Scotland: Land of prisons

The Sunday Standard (24/7/83) recently ran an article on the conditions in a Scottish prison: Saughton Prison in Edinburgh.

In Saughton the cells, only 10 feet by 7 Vi are generally shared by at least 2 pri­soners. The reason why more and more prisoners are being crammed into Scot­tish gaols is obvious - growing poverty and unemployment is forcing people to turn to 'crime' in order to put food on the table. Most prisoners are poor, unemp­loyed, black, Irish, so-called 'immi­grants'- those who are on the ruling class hit-list.

An Edinburgh solicitor claimed that Saughton is worse than Brixton Pri­son - a notorious dustbin for the racist London police. These appalling condi­tions are deliberate more often than not. Saughton's Governor said recently:

'I'm not unhappy about two in a cell provided I can choose and regulate the numbers involved but i don't like three in a cell at all.'

The Sunday Standard goes on to con­gratulate Cornton Vale Prison for its 'civilised' treatment of women prison­ers by introducing electronic methods of watching the women in the prison lavatories!

Scotland is second only to the occu­pied North of Ireland in the 'league table' of Europe's prison populations. Many of these prisoners have not been sentenced but are held for several months on remand, as the Sunday Standard is also forced to admit:

'517 men and women on remand in Scotland are either awaiting trial or sentence, the bulk of them from Glas­gow's Barlinnie and Edinburgh's Saughton.'

As the state increases its repressive conditions there may be another Albany where prisoners broke through the pri­son's censorship to be heard.

Willie C Edinburgh

FRFI 32 September 1983


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