Peterhead, one of the country's most notorious jails and home to some of the worst sex offenders in Scotland, closed this week, and HMP Aberdeen is set to shut its doors for good in the New Year. From March, women, young offenders and men will all serve sentences at the new super-jail, HMP Grampian, near the site of the old Peterhead prison. Jails across Scotland will be interim holding pens for inmates until Grampian opens.
The shake-up is part of a Scottish Government and Scottish Prison Service plan to cut re-offending rates by providing greater links between offenders and outside world. It's known as the community-facing approach. This new style of running prisons also involves housing all of a region's prisoners in a jail in their own area so that family links are maintained in order to help rehabilitate offenders.
Rachel Loxton visited Aberdeen and Peterhead prisons to examine what the closures will mean for prisoners, their families and staff.
NEARLY every day, Janice goes to work in a cafe on the outskirts of Aberdeen.
She arrives and leaves with the other staff.
But the 39-year-old does not go home to her three children and husband: she goes back to Aberdeen prison where she is serving a sentence for culpable homicide.
Janice is one of three women in the community integration unit at Craiginches, the city jail which closes in just over a month's time.
The unit opened in June 2010, and signified a shift in the way offending is managed in Scotland to the "community facing" approach.
In three weeks, Janice will return to Cornton Vale, currently Scotland's only all-female prison, where she was first taken after sentencing last year.
In March, she will go to the new Grampian Prison, which will serve the whole of the northeast's prison population - young offenders, women and men.
Overlooking the sea at Salthouse Head, next to Peterhead Prison which closed on Friday, HMP Grampian will house 500 inmates.
But there are worries over the new jail's capacity to serve the community and how its isolated location will impact on prisoner families. The community integration unit in Aberdeen is a few doors away from the office of Audrey Mooney, governor of Aberdeen and Peterhead, pictured right with deputy Stuart Campbell.
Across the corridor, Janice's large cell looks more like a teenager's bedroom, .
"I'm dreading going back down to Cornton Vale," says Janice."This is my first offence so prison was a complete shock to me. This isn't who I am. I don't know how I got through Cornton Vale. It took a lot of anti-depressants."
Janice has been in Aberdeen since February and will be in jail until at least 2015. She says any change to her regime will be a shock but the prospect of moving to HMP Grampian, which will accommodate around 50 women, is bright.
"I get to see my kids, go to their doctor appointments, I have visits out in the community," she explains. "For a mother, this is has been life-changing for me."
Arguably the new approach is working.
The re-offending rate for women at Aberdeen is 15%, compared to around 80% for other prisoners sentenced to six months or less.
"We now are doing positive work with prisoners," says Mooney, 59. "The buzz word when people come into prison is 'throughcare' - we're looking at your release as soon as you come in."
In the 123-year-old building, there are 236 prisoners registered in a building fit for 155. The tiny cells are packed after the last Peterhead prisoners moved in after its closure. Everyone will be dispersed to central belt jails, including Barlinnie in Glasgow, after Christmas.
Among the offenders in the noisy A Hall is cannabis dealer Neil, 28.
He says he turned to crime after failing to get a job, and will be released on December 27 - before the move kicks in.
"I'm lucky," he says. "And I won't be back - that's it for me. It's not bad here but it's no life."
Joseph, 25, is in for housebreaking and breach of bail. He takes Subutex for heroin and methodone addictions and has been in and out of jail since he was 16.
With a release date in August next year, and a seven-months-pregnant girlfriend, Joseph is thinking about the unrest ahead before the new northeast jail opens.
"I've been in Barlinnie before. It's different. They don't like Aberdonians.
"I'll hardly get any visits. It's meant to be better when the Grampian one opens."
Joseph is desperate to be granted an electronic tag release but says he has been given no support.
"I've had no help from anyone in here," he says. "All that's in here is drugs.
"They're thrown over the wall or people from outside take them in."
In the more relaxed B Hall - for those deemed more responsible - prisoners prepare for exercise. Tony, 23, is serving 16 months for "selling hash". At 19, he was convicted of assault and served eight months in Polmont.
He is part of the Roots and Shoots programme giving prisoners a six-month work placement in gardening at the end of their sentence. He has helped to build a garden with a vegetable patch, flowers, and a greenhouse made of plastic bottles.
Tony says he has no reservations about the regime change which will see him move to Grampian.
"It breaks up the sentence," he says.
With much of the prison population - around 8000 people - on short sentences, there is an ongoing debate over the effectiveness of jail."I should have got community service," says Tony. "But at least I've got a job set up for when I leave."
TWENTY-SIX years ago, officers at Peterhead Prison wore body armour.
They had daily battles with the country's most dangerous criminals sent to the isolated 125-year-old jail to serve long sentences.
The prison has been home to serial killer Peter Tobin, limbs-in-the-loch murderer William Beggs and Glasgow gangsters Arthur Thompson and Jimmy Boyle.
It closed its gates on Friday, with demolition due next month. A week before the 303-cell prison closes, the mood is one of reflection. Now only 38 inmates remain.
But the concrete pens where one inmate exercised at a time during the lockdown period in the late 1980s, and the slopping out hall, remain. The roof that officer Jackie Stewart was dragged across like a dog on a chain during the October 1987 riots is the same.
Operations manager John Duncan, 56, who has worked in Peterhead since 1986, said: "I was in Edinburgh before I came up here so it was a bit of a culture shock for me. At that time nobody wanted to work in Peterhead at all. You kind of think you're going to the middle of nowhere."
He says that despite the riots and problems, the culture of the prison and staff camaraderie persuaded him to stay.
But Duncan admits things were "really bad" at times: "We were seeing our colleagues being taken across roofs and things like that. A lot of us, myself included, were working in body armour.
"But the relationships were never bad with the prisoners. I've still to figure out in my head what that was all about."
Duncan says the riots were probably caused by boredom.
But staff are keen to put an end to that chapter and celebrate the distance that the prison service has travelled.
Governor Mooney says: "The organisation has changed from being an insular, very-slow-to-change organisation into one that's entirely open, that welcomes partnerships, that beckons people to come in through the walls, whose transparency is absolutely so forward-thinking and visionary in the broader criminal justice sense. That's been a huge journey."
Peterhead Prison, originally built for convicts who built the Buchan fishing port's breakwater, became a centre for sex offenders in 1994. Duncan was one of the team implementing the specialised sex-offenders programme which became world renowned. He says: "Working with sex offenders was so different.
"There wasn't the same sort of violence, you had to deal with people differently."
In D Hall, the last few prisoners are preparing for transfer to Aberdeen or the central belt. Kevin, 38, from Lanarkshire, was jailed for murder in 1995. He says the move to HMP Grampian won't affect him.
"I move around all the time so it's not a big deal. It will probably impact the guys on short-term sentences more. It sounds like it will be a good thing though."
Across at the gym, four prisoners play badminton and there are signs that hope comes with the new jail. Jerome, 27, who lives in Aberdeen, has been in Peterhead since June last year for drug offences.
He says: "I don't see the staff here as being bad, they respect us if we respect them. They helped me apply for a mechanical engineering course. I want to do that when I'm out.
"I've heard there's a lot more of this at Grampian."
More than 300 staff will work at the new prison under governor Jim Farish.