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Scottish Prisoners Issued Mobile Phones During Pandemic

The SPS introduced mobile phones into its prison system as a means of maintaining contact with loved ones without having to stand in queues waiting on a public phone. “The SPS has supported the mental health of prisoners by continuing family contact with the introduction of virtual visits and mobile phone access, with appropriate safeguards,” said a Scottish government spokesperson. “The use of these new methods of contact will continue to provide support as we transition out of lockdown.”

The phones are simple devices that cannot access the internet or social media, cannot take pictures and are blocked from receiving incoming calls. Prisoners are allowed 20 phone numbers approved by administration, which they can call any time during the day, paid for by taxes.

Statistics show that recidivism is affected by close community ties and prisoners are more likely to reoffend when they lose contact with family and friends. Activists state that these mobile phones help to improve the quality of life of the prisoner, maintaining that necessary contact, which also helps to keep prison staff safer.

Opponents say these mobile phones will create more opportunity to be abused and used to continue criminal enterprises behind bars. Proponents state that these devices already exist as contraband in the prison system. Between 2013 and 2017, 1,500 illegal mobile phones had been confiscated from Scottish prisons used to direct drug deals, contact witnesses and commit other crimes. 


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