Looking at the figures of the prison population in Scotland, and comparing them with the prison population in other European countries you begin to ask yourself some questions. Take Northern Europe and look at the figures for other countries with a similar population. Denmark, population approximately 5.5m, prison population, just over 4,000. Finland, population approximately 5.3m, prison population, 3,100. Norway, population just under 5m, prison population, 3,600. Ireland, population approximately 4.5m, prison population just over 4,400. Not a lot of difference there, but let's look at Scotland, population approximately 5.2m, prison population 8,178, for the year 2011/12. This was an increase of 4% over the last decade. You are looking at approximately double the prison population in Scotland compared to other European countries of similar population size. What makes the situation worse is that this 8,178 prison population is housed in a prison system with a design capacity of 7,840.
Could it be that we Scots are just a bad lot, just a wee land of terrible people? Or could it be that we have more problems in our society, poverty etc. get locked up for problems related to mental health and addiction, or is it simply that we have a more authoritarian government in this country. Probably a combination of all of the last three.
Prisons are never about justice, they are about control, they are about protecting the establishment, the status-quo, about protecting the wealth and power of those who rule over us. The more they feel threatened, the more the prison population will grow.