Letter: Hindley: punished and rehabilitated

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Sir: I am the same age as Myra Hindley and was a recent mother at the time of the Moors Murder. I suspect that along with many women, I tormented myself with fears for my children's safety if such "monsters" as these people could exist. Again, like most people, I thought that any jail sentence was a "soft option" for so heinous a crime.

My daughter, age 27 and unborn when the murders took place, is one of those vociferous in the belief that Myra Hindley should remain in prison for the rest of her life. It is a view I no longer share.

There can be no doubt that Myra Hindley is being "treated differently" ("Hindley ready to fight 'death in jail' ruling", 20 December) Her crime was grotesque and she readily admits full responsibility for this, but she has served many, many years more in jail other criminals who have had equally scant regard for the suffering of others.

Is part of her crime that she is a woman? The tabloids have always been at pains to emphasise this aspect. They play on the nurturer/mother ideal of womanhood and show her as the antithesis of this, whipping up a frenzy of hatred every time her name is mentioned in connection with release. The recent, refuted claims that she established a friendship with Rosemary West in Durham jail bear witness to this obsession with the "evil woman" syndrome. No doubt it sells newspapers, but these attacks have little to do with justice and are more to do with serving a distasteful public propensity for salacious tittle-tattle.

The fact remains that Hindley has served a very long term in prison. While this can never be long enough for the families of her victims, and we should not expect them to think otherwise, there can be no legal justification for her continued incarceration. Hindley has served twice the normal life sentence. If prison is supposed to be a mixture of punishment and rehabilitation, then she most certainly fits the category of those who are ready to re- enter society.

She should now be released.

Yours faithfully

I. Pickard


20 December