Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke said it was a “national scandal” that almost half of prisoners reoffended.
Reacting the the report, John Lamont MSP and Scottish Conservative Justice Spokesperson said:
“This is further proof that it was wrong for the SNP and Lib Dems vote in favour of scrapping short sentences in the last Parliament. They told us that those people serving short sentences are more likely to reoffend – a suggestion rejected by this report.
“It has been clear for some time the much-heralded ‘community-based alternatives to prison’ idea has severe flaws, as figures published last December showed that in almost two thirds of local authorities, community sentences aren’t starting in time. So why then are we putting more strain on this system by emptying Scotland’s jails?
“We want community-based sentences to be tough, fast and effective. But it is wrong to disregard prison. That is why we want to restore custodial sentences of three months or less as an option, backed up with proper rehabilitation that starts in jail.
“You don’t cut crime by cutting the prison population, you cut the prison population by cutting crime. Until the SNP Government realises this, we will get nowhere.
However, authorities were unable to say whether findings of the report were due to increased time spent in prison, increased time spent on licence after release or the use of offender management programmes.