Letters: A super prison costs too much

These letters appear in the Saturday 7th September edition of the Independent

Share

“Four jails will close to make way for £250m ‘super-prison’ in Wales” ran your story (5 September) about jails in Reading, Dorchester, Blundeston and Northallerton closing and one giant one being built to replace them.

Does this mean that all the local employment is lost? And then we, the public, will be paying for all the travel warrants for relatives to visit the super-prison, which will presumably be nowhere near where any of the families live – which also means that children will suffer because they will not be able to visit in term time?

Forcing prisoners to be ferried hundreds of miles away from where they live and away from their relatives to one big place seems a poorly thought out idea.

Surely building replacement prisons on existing sites would be better.

Martin Sandaver, Cusop Dingle, Hay-on-Wye

 

Super-prisons? Spend millions, lock ’em up in their thousands, throw away the key, and all criminal problems will disappear. What next? A return to debtors’ prisons? That will surely reduce the number of benefit scroungers, if not bankers.

This might please the hang ’em and flog ’em brigade, but it will prove expensive for the country in many ways, with no proof of an effective outcome. Quite the opposite.

In 2007, the Labour Government announced it would build three giant Titan prisons, each holding up to 2,500 prisoners.

There was an outcry against the plan, largely based on evidence from the USA and France, where such institutions had proved to cause more problems among prisoners and increased reoffending.  The plans for the Titan prisons were quietly dropped.

Many offenders have problems with drugs, mental health or limited education. I wrote to the then Home Secretary, Dr John Reid, to ask him to provide details of the Home Office budget to treat those conditions, in support of rehabilitation, in comparison with the £2.3bn to build the Titans.

With some persistence, I discovered that there was no such budget.

Successful rehabilitation is known to reduce a wide range of social problems and their costs to the taxpayer.

That is not to say that perpetrators of serious crimes should not be punished by long prison sentences; but small amounts to treat small offenders, if applied professionally, could provide considerable savings, in the heartache of victims and in public funds.

What’s the bet that there is still no budget for that need?

MALCOLM MACINTYRE-READ, Much Wenlock, Shropshire

 

You report that four English jails will close and 2,000 (mainly English) prisoners will move to a new facility in Wrexham. I wonder what the English would say if you reported that the Welsh Government intended to export 2,000 Welsh prisoners to England.

Nigel Scott, London N22

 

Labour and party funding

Contrary to the impression given by your headline “Labour says taxpayers may have to pay more for political parties” (6 September), I do not believe that a Labour government could simply force through public funding of political parties.

I do believe that Labour can and should campaign for a £5,000 limit on all donations, and this, ideally with the support of other parties, should be legislated for without any prior demand for public funding.

Only once it was clear that political parties were giving up big money would it be possible to try to win public consent for some funding of democratic political parties.

John Denham

MP for Southampton Itchen, House of Commons, SW1

 

Why not combine the five conservative parties and save on the funding issue?

Bob Simmonds

Stickney, Lincolnshire

 

Soccer success starts at bottom

Before Greg Dyke’s admirable ambitions for the future of England’s football team can have any hope of fulfilment, a few facts must be faced.

Pioneering the game to the world, as we did, does not confer any guarantee of superiority. Winning the World Cup once has left an unwarranted legacy of expectation. But if there exist today young players with the ability, desire and character to play at the highest level, no club will deny them the chance.

The Football Association, albeit belatedly, has not been inactive. New regulations prioritising skill before results are now being put in place for players in the three youngest age groups. Over following seasons, these principles will be extended to older players. This does not necessarily promise a team of world-beaters in 2022, but raising the base level is a start. We may also need to look at the quality of teaching: a coaching badge does not always indicate the ability to inspire.

That is where we must begin. Top-down solutions don’t work. 

Gerald Sinstadt

Tittensor, Staffordshire

 

The new chairman of the FA, Greg Dyke, could do a lot to return our Sundays to the family.

I recall the days when Dad, with pencil in hand, told everyone to shush as he listened to the football results on a Saturday afternoon. He was looking for those eight draws that might have made a big difference to his working-class family. It never happened. Yet we had the following day left undisturbed for the family. After Sunday school and lunch, all five of us, like all our neighbours, went for a walk along the country lanes, many with prams and pushchairs. That was because there was no football being played.

Mr Dyke could rise up against the TV moguls. League football could be returned to Saturdays, with selected games being shared among all the television companies. Over the season, every league club would get a share of viewing rights, and attendances would rise as couch-potato fans were dragged away from their living rooms – and cans of beer – to watch the games live. It would be good for the health of the clubs and the fans.

Terry Duncan, Bridlington, East Yorkshire

 

Even special relationships end

Sometimes marriages can unfortunately deteriorate into abusive relationships, at which point divorce is the best option for all concerned.

With the recent parliamentary vote on Syria, some commentators have mourned the demise of the “special relationship” between the UK and USA. There have, indeed, been great moments, from Churchill and Roosevelt to Thatcher and Reagan.

However, many British and American citizens have become concerned that, as opposed to an alliance that protects our mutual freedoms, this “special relationship” has mutated into one that represses our populations.

Even more important to a nation’s survival than the integrity of its border is its constitution – that its government operates entirely lawfully. This means protecting journalists who reveal abuses of power, and state officials who blow the whistle on such abuses.

Britain and America’s governments should view recent events not as a setback, but as an opportunity to ask themselves what purpose our alliance should serve, and to ensure that purpose is entirely for the benefit of our citizens and the world beyond our borders.

A R Wainwright, Halstead, Essex

 

Academies can raise standards

Professor Stephen Gorard (“Academies ‘increase divisions between the rich and poor’ ”, 4 September) says: “If you want less segregation, do not have different types of schools.”

Ingenious! Abolish choice and, miraculously, we’re back to the good old days of everyone, instead of just a majority, attending a bad school.

Why stop with schools? I propose banning Waitrose on the grounds that doing so would decrease segregation in the aisles of Lidl  and Aldi.

The real issue is whether giving parents more choice raises standards of education in an area. If that is the case (and it would come as a surprise to the parents who move heaven and earth to get their kids into selective schools if it did not), we would then be in a position to debate whether increased segregation is a price worth paying for increasing median educational attainment and shifting the distribution towards higher attainment.

Tom Mitchell, Corsham, Wiltshire

 

Bombard Syria  with gas masks

If the West is serious about helping the Syrian people, perhaps we should drop a million gas masks over the city of Damascus. If some fell into the wrong hands, it would not matter but could prevent further mass murder by poison gas.

Chris Tomlinson, South Wootton, Norfolk

 

Kennedy beats Obama

I have to disagree with Bruce Anderson’s assertion (6 September) that “Yes we can” was the best presidential slogan since “I like Ike”. Surely John F Kennedy’s question, offered to voters beneath a picture of Richard Nixon, of “Would you buy a used car from this man?” beats them all?

Vaughan Thomas, Usk, Monmouthshire

 

Lack of attention

Never having attended a full council meeting in any other authority than Middlesbrough, I decided to attend the recent one in Redcar and Cleveland where the motion of no confidence in the leader, Councillor George Dunning, was to be discussed.

A teenage girl next to me pointed out that one councillor was texting, and I noticed he was also reading a book for a lot of the time. The title of the book appeared to be None Of Them Were Heroes – clearly, he thought it more interesting to read than to listen to the discussion. What sort of an impression does this give to the public?

JOAN McTIGUE, Independent Councillor, Middlesbrough

 

Nyad the Naiad

Some may have noted the appropriateness of the surname of Diana Nyad (give or take a letter or two), who swam from Cuba to Florida. In Greek mythology, the Naiads were a type of nymph who presided over various types of water, including fountains, springs, streams and brooks. Perhaps the great swimmer’s name indicates she was  fated to achieve some great  aquatic feat.

James Carleton Paget, Fellow and Tutor of Peterhouse, Cambridge

Burning question

With reference to the architect of the “Walkie Talkie” building  saying that he planned to “respect the city’s historic character”,  I hope that he wasn’t referring to the Great Fire of London.

Helen Muller, Romford

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Buyer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This award winning IT company are currently re...

Recruitment Genius: IT Account Manager

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineers

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineers

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, with her boyfriend, fellow vlogger Alfie Deyes  

What the advertising world can learn from Zoella's gang

Danny Rogers
Rachel Reeves is the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary  

What are we voting for? No one knows

Stefano Hatfield
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor