More than 150 inmates have been given early releases from Scottish prisons as part of efforts to help contain the spread of coronavirus, according to new figures.
The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) revealed 154 inmates have been let out of jail, while a governor’s veto was used in 23 cases to prevent early release.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf described the figures as “positive progress” and said it has “helped to make prisons safe environments”.
The first early releases took place on May 6, according to an SPS report, and none of the prisoners involved showed symptoms of Covid-19, which would have delayed their release.
Barlinnie released the most inmates, at 25, followed by HMP Edinburgh at 19 and Glenochil, Kilmarnock and Low Moss prisons all at 17.
A total of 445 prisoners are considered eligible for the scheme, which is being dealt with in three phases up to June 1.
The releases follow new legislation introducing powers for the early release of a specific class of inmates in Scottish prisons.
This includes short-term prisoners nearing the end of their time in custody.
The scheme is limited to those sentenced to 18 months or less and who on had 90 days or less left to serve as of April 30.
Release of prisoners under the regulations is subject to exclusions to ensure public protection, such as those who are imprisoned for life or with convictions for sexual offences, domestic abuse or terrorism offences.
Meanwhile, the latest SPS figures indicate a total of 24 prisoners were self-isolating across nine institutions on Tuesday with one confirmed coronavirus case.
The deaths of six inmates have been linked to coronavirus.
The statistics indicate there were 811 members of staff absent across the SPS as of Friday, which is 18.3% of the workforce.
A total of 532 – 12% of those off – were absent due to Covid-19.
This includes those who are symptomatic, self-isolating, shielding or caring for family members.
A total of 40 of these staff, 0.9% of the total workforce, are reported to be showing symptoms.