Prisoners should be allowed phones in their cells as well as televisions, the chief executive of the Scottish Prison Service has suggested.
Placing phones in cells can help people keep in touch with their families which could, in turn, help prevent reoffending, Colin McConnell said.
The SPS chief executive said he is a "fan of TVs in cells" for prisoners, with "loads of positives that come from that".
Loading article content
He also told MSPs on Holyrood's Justice Committee: "I would go much further. If I could be a wee bit reformist here, I would have telephones in cells as well. I know that might stick in the craw of certain members of the public and maybe some members sitting round the table here.
"It seems to me you get people to behave normally if you treat them normally; you try and recreate normality.
"One of the things that's generally accepted helps towards reducing reoffending is relationships and family contact. Anything reasonably and safely we can do to help sustain and develop family contact, we should give it a go."
Committee convener Christine Grahame said both televisions and phones in cells should come "with the caveat that presumably its monitored what they are watching and obviously phone calls, so people don't think they are in some kind of Marriot hotel instead of in prison".
Mr McConnell was also asked about prisoners having televisions in their cells by Labour's Graeme Pearson, a former director general of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency.
The South of Scotland MSP told how he visited Low Moss Prison in Bishopbriggs where inmates are not allowed to watch TV after 1am.
Mr Pearson said this appears to have a "very positive effect on the prison" because it encourages prisoners to go to sleep, "which means in the morning they are more engaged and ready to go out and do something".
He then asked if this television curfew should be extended to all prisoners so they "get to their beds and get up in the morning".
Mr McConnell said there are "pros and cons" to having a curfew. Television could be a "window on the world".
He said: "It's about keeping informed about what's going on and actually it's a displacement activity as well. If it stops somebody thinking horrible thoughts about themselves or others and encourages discourse about Coronation Street, the news or whatever it might be, I think there's loads of positives that come from that.
"I know it's one of those issues that polarises people but I think there's a place for it. Whether it should have a curfew, I think there are pros and cons. I'd much rather treat people with the respect and decency in the sense of 'please use it sensibly' and those that don't, we might have to curtail it."