More than 70 inmates of a North-east jail are being paid to sit in their cells – at a cost of about £20,000 a year.
Since it opened, HMP Grampian has come under criticism by politicians who have branded it an “expensive failure”.
Now critics have raised concerns that paying prisoners thousands of pounds a year to sit idle will not help with their rehabilitation.
The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) offers inmates work or educational opportunities at a rate of about £5 per week. That is paid even if no opportunities exist, and a freedom of information request revealed this week that 74 inmates at the Peterhead prison are in that position.
It costs the taxpayer £370 a week – a potential £19,240 a year – to fund them.
A spokesman for the SPS said the nationwide figures included 105 prisoners who are in segregation and 100 more who are serving sentences of less than 45 days.
Liam Kerr, justice spokesman for the Scottish Conservative Party, said: “These figures reveal an alarming number of inmates are being paid to simply sit in their cells.”