Letter: Let justice be the sole yardstick for punishment

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The Independent Online
Sir: Michael Howard's crime statistics are indeed encouraging, but surely he could, to advantage, push his argument much further? If, as he assures us, keeping a burglar in prison for a year prevents between three and 13 burglaries, why not keep him there for 20 years and prevent up to 260 burglaries? Why ever let him out at all?

The prospects that Mr Howard opens before us are indeed dazzling. His former prime minister once held out the hope of zero inflation, but he can do better than this. Given his policies, we can hope to see Britain become the first country in the world with negative crime statistics, in which the number of crimes prevented by shutting up more and more people for longer and longer will exceed the number of crimes committed.

True, the actual number of muggings, break-ins, car thefts and the rest of it may continue to increase exponentially, but the crime problem will have been solved to the presumed satisfaction of all thinking people.

Yours etc,



17 October