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LETTERS: Meditating on a cure for the prisons

From Mr Peter Warburton Sir: Michael Howard insists, rightly, that he would have cause to resign only if it were his policies that had caused the problems in the prisons or "if he had failed to do something that he should have done". However, one area where he has undoubtedly failed is in not implementing proven programmes that have been shown to reduce levels of violence in prisons and significantly cut recidivism.

In particular, research on transcendental meditation, conducted in many prisons throughout the world and published in top scientific journals, has shown reductions in re-offending rates of 45 per cent among prisoners who learned this simple technique. Such a dramatic reduction has not been achieved by any other programme, to my knowledge.

When a prison governor in Britain has requested that transcendental meditation be taught in his or her prison, the Home Office has blocked the request. The reason given is that insufficient funds are available.

Yet the cost of implementing such a programme is trivial compared to the savings that would be made. Recidivism is one of the most intractable problems in society. At present over 90 per cent of young offenders in Britain are reconvicted within two yearsof being released from prison. Failure to implement a proven programme to reduce reoffending should surely be a resigning matter for Mr Howard.

Yours truly, PETER WARBURTON Deputy Leader Natural Law Party Mentmore, Buckinghamshire 4 January