Letters: Prison not working

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The Independent Culture
Sir: If lessons are to be learnt from the Wormwood Scrubs scandal, the Government must tackle not only the problems of that establishment but also the wider institutional malaise.

Incidents of staff-prisoner mistreatment occur in the majority of prisons, while verbal abuse is commonplace. Poor industrial relations continue to obstruct progress.

Prisons are violent places which too often serve further to brutalise individuals before returning them to society. Perhaps a new perspective of prisoners as "customers" would be helpful, to ensure that a decent and effective service for rehabilitation is delivered from which the whole community would benefit.

The new Director General, Martin Narey, should seize this opportunity to shake the service up. It is not just a question of a few more hours' activity each week, but rather a shift in ethos and a reassessment of the purpose of prison in our society.

TIM COLBOURNE

Policy Officer

The Howard League for Penal Reform

London N19

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