Letter: The benefits of mixed jails

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NICK COHEN discusses in his article 'Mixed jails 'will corrupt young' ' (7 August) the scepticism felt about the Prison Service proposals of this long- overdue initiative.

It is understandable, I suspect, for the old-style prison officers who have been running our current 'universities of crime' to oppose this move. As a proponent of conjugal rights for prisoners and their families, I despair at the narrow-minded concept of the sexual act rather than the development of healthy stable relationships which would help reduce crime.

Apart from Lord Justice Woolf's recommendations, countries such as Spain have had a mixed modularsystem in place for almost a decade. Valencia's Picassent was the first mixed-sex penitenciaria established in Europe, in 1990, and a great success it is, too.

Hence, the concern of the Prison Reform Trust director, Stephen Shaw, about us infringing the so-called Council of Europe's Prison Rules, does not seem justified; even if it does, at least we have an ally in Spain.

Anver Jeevanjee