Letter: Our failing prisons

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The Independent Culture
Letter:

Our failing prisons

Sir: Martin Narey, the recently appointed Director-General of the Prison Service, reportedly acknowledges that most prison admissions are young men from deprived backgrounds frequently with psychiatric and drug problems ("Jail suicide rate doubles in 15 years", 18 May). We should be asking what they are they doing in prison in the first place and how depriving them further will help or reform them.

A civilised society should be sufficiently mature, experienced and compassionate to acknowledge that seeking to hurt those who hurt it only leads to more damage. We should be addressing these damaged young people's mental health and other needs, and be establishing humane, effective, non-punitive alternatives to the failing, financially draining, anachronistic prison system.

Dr RUTH S COOKLIN

Consultant Psychiatrist

London N20

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