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Davidson: Scots justice system 'tilted towards criminals'

Her remarks come after father Craig McClelland was killed by a prisoner on the run.

Scotland's justice system is tilted towards criminals rather than victims, Ruth Davidson has said.

The Scottish Conservative leader challenged Nicola Sturgeon after prisoner James Wright breached his home curfew and stabbed father-of-three Craig McClelland in Paisley last year.

Speaking at First Minister's Questions on Thursday, Davidson pointed out that Wright had been allowed out of prison with an electronic tag despite having 16 previous convictions, including two for knife crimes.

The 25-year-old criminal breached his home curfew just 11 days after being released from prison on February 13, 2017.

He killed Craig McClelland on July 23 that year on Tweed Avenue, Foxbar, Paisley, during the six-month period when he was illegally at large.

Mr McClelland, who had three young sons with his partner Stacy Wilcox, had been on his way to visit his brother to play Xbox.

The First Minister said the case was "appalling" but denied the Scottish justice system favoured criminals, highlighting that the country has one of the largest prison populations in western Europe.

https://stv.tv/news/west-central/1417413-partner-of-man-murdered-by-prisoner-slams-justice-system/ | default

Davidson demanded to know why figures were not compiled to determine how many offences were committed by those subject to home detention curfews.

She asked: "If criminals are being released from jail tagged and then going on to commit violent crimes, don't the public have a right to know how many?"

The Scottish Tory leader continued: "This case has rightly drawn the focus on home release, but the issues here go far, far deeper - not just on home release but on parole and on sentencing too.

"We say that it is simply wrong that someone with 16 previous convictions, including two for knife crimes, should be let out with a tag.

"It is wrong that victims and their families don't have the right to speak at parole board hearings and it is wrong that victims can't challenge the decision to let criminals out on parole.

"Scotland's justice system is tilted far too much in favour of those convicted of crime and too often turns a deaf ear to the victims of those crimes.

"It is long past time we had action from this government to correct that basic injustice."

https://stv.tv/news/west-central/1417331-man-stabbed-father-to-death-while-illegally-at-large/ | default

Sturgeon stressed the killing of Mr McLelland by James Wright was an "appalling case" and a "dreadful crime".

She added: "I want to take the opportunity to express my deepest sympathies to Mr McLelland's family and friends."

The First Minister said "lessons would be learned" from the case, but emphasised the importance of rehabilitating prisoners as well as punishing them.

She told MSPs: "Systems like this are an important part of preparing individuals for release, they are about reintegrating prisoners into society."

Sturgeon continued: "More generally, it is not the case that our justice system is tilted towards criminals not victims.

"Scotland has one of the highest prison populations anywhere in western Europe right now.

"Part of the problem is we know prison is not the most effective sentence in terms of reducing reoffending for some of those who commit offences."

She referred to quotes by the UK Conservative justice secretary expressing similar sentiments.

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