Letter: Dishonest punishment

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Sir: Michael Howard and his party proclaim 'traditional values'. But surely wisdom, honesty and humanity are chief among them. And where is the wisdom of locking up foolish young offenders, 80 out of every 100 of whom we shall later confront as hardened criminals? And how much honesty has there been about the motives for taking such a step - how much honest admission of what we know to be the failure of such measures in the past?

As for humanity, that must include real and effective concern for the victims of crime but surely also the strongest possible resistance to giving up for lost considerable numbers of our own young people, many of whom have already drawn the short straw. If an understandable longing for the power to punish is to be given expression, let it at least not be done fraudulently, in the name of traditional values.

Yours faithfully,