Letter: The need for real prison reform

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Sir: On a Magistrates Association study tour to Chicago last month, we questioned officers in both the federal and state prison services about private prisons. None of the officers we questioned seemed even to know that there were such institutions in the United States, and thought the idea both unethical and unworkable.

Nick Cohen says in his article ('Reform goes out of the window', 26 August) that there are only 20 or 30 small private prisons, mainly in the 'Bible-belt states'. The Government's use of the US as a model for the privatisation of our own prison service seems somewhat specious.

Yours faithfully,


Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex