Cut time behind bars with the benefits of mentoring

30th November 2007 at 00:00

Having just listened to a first-class Cripps Lecture delivered by the Lord Chief Justice at the Howard League for Penal Reform, I feel it prompts further debate.

He spoke of finding ways to reduce our prison population - the highest in Europe - and at the same time save the taxpayer enormous sums of money, which could be invested elsewhere. We already know that our prisons contain a large percentage of people who should not be there. We now need to concentrate our efforts on reforming those imprisoned because there was no alternative. Before we are able to do anything, we must change the mind-set of criminals and, to do this, we might well give consideration to mentoring prisoners.

Mentoring is already working well in schools, colleges and universities, and has begun among politicians and others in public service. Companies, private individuals and others are offering their services, mainly for free, to help people who need it. Might I suggest the prison service, if it is not already, consider this as another way to help prevent re- offending and thereby reduce the numbers in our already over-crowded prisons?

Bob Miller, Springfield Green, Chelmsford, Essex.

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