A couple of days ago I did a post outlining my concern at the sentences handed down at my local Sheriff Court (in the nine different crime headings, only one exceeded the Scottish national average).
I concluded by saying "The irony is of course, that when a Sheriff, any Sheriff, sends a criminal to jail, then they are no sooner inside, when Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill and his colleagues are falling over themselves to let them out again."
I'm delighted to see that a senior Police officer shares my (and many other people's view).
Mr Stephen House, who is Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police claims that the force only just has enough resources to monitor the sex offenders in the community and comments on proposals for early release. He is quoted as saying "The government plans to expand this to deal with all violent offenders - tens of thousands in Strathclyde - and we simply do not have resources to do that."
"You have to pay for it somewhere. If you are driven by money in terms of 'we won't increase prison places - we'll save that way', if you are going to have violent offenders staying in the community, there will be a cost to that as well.
Most importantly, he said: "It may be greater violence or greater supervision - but you won't escape the cost."
Now I appreciate that there are arguments that prison doesn't work. What we shouldn't lose sight of however is the fact that when someone is locked up for serious crimes, the community is safe from their criminal behaviour for the duration of their incarcaration. Isn't that what we want? Safe communities that are protected by the law and the judicial system?
Victims of crime and society in general have an expectation that crime shouldn't pay, but for some time this expectation is not being met, and it will only get worse under the SNP's early release ideas.
If people are committing crimes that genuinely warrant custodial sentences, then we need the prison places to accomodate them. The answer to prison overcrowding is not simply to let the criminals out.