IN her article "Where Christmas is feared" in your
December I issue, Ann Kimmel made some sweeping statements and published allegations which do less than justice to the members of the Prison Service, in which I have served for many years.
Being subject to the provisions of the Official Secrets Act I am not at liberty to go into too many details. In fact I am perhaps sticking my neck out by writing this letter. However, Ann Kimmel's article seemed to me terribly biased against the Prison Service.
She told of the padded Christmas cards which were placed in an inmate's property instead of in his cell. There is a reason for this. and the prison staff are carrying out instructions. If the lady uses her imagination, the reason or reasons may occur to her.
The story of the warden who tore up the inmate's letter before his face is too ridiculous for words. In all my service I have never known such a thing to be done.
When a single ex-prisoner makes a statement that he thinks prison officials "do the best they can to make it hard because they want us to suffer for our crimes," and this is published without any attempt at verification, one wonders what has happened to the sense of reason, truth and charity which might be expected from a leading Catholic paper.
The punishment for crime is awarded by the State. The work of the prisons is that of rehabilitation, even in the face of non-co-operation from some inmates.
The remark about the food is less than the truth. The normal daily diet in prisons is no punishment I can assure you, and at Christmas every effort is made to make life as pleasant as possible for all the inmates.
Fredk. Hetherington Birmingham.
Ann Kimmel writes: The "statements" about prison life made in my Christmas story were not the impartial sort of judgment one would expect from a Royal Commission, but the impressions felt by a prisoner, and expressed in his own words.
If those impressions are thought to be unrepresentative, perhaps Mr. Hetherington would care to survey a cross-section of H.M.P. inmates, to verify his assumption that they are convinced their treatment is rehabilitative and not punitive.