Letter: Prisons show results of society's credit-card values

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The Independent Online
Sir: Let us not accord authority to the pronouncements of people who do not know what they are talking about, even if they are the Prime Minister and Home Secretary. Prison is not a deterrent.

I know of no research which has proven that, and almost 30 years working in the probation service tells me from first-hand experience that very few offenders take any account of the possible consequences of being caught. Most are motivated by need, greed or excitement and get no further than immediate gratification.

The probation service works to make them recognise the consequences to themselves, their victims and their families. Astonishingly, this all comes as a revelation, and can motivate them to go on to work on ways of avoiding reoffending.

Prison puts offenders into an inmate subculture that is anti-authority and elevates the status of delinquency, violence and other anti-social traits. It makes prisoners worse, not better, and more likely to commit offences in the future.

Yours faithfully,