Letters - 3 February 2017

From letters to prisoners to transcendent reality

Letters to prisoners

I must affirm what Mark Humphries has written regarding letters in prison (20 January). They are a lifeline that is critical to coping inside.

Whatever a person’s crimes, it can all too often lead to a loss of their support network, leaving them feeling isolated and alone. A regular letter, and the joy felt when it is slid under the cell door, can make the difference between a life with hope or a life lost.

I would urge anyone with some free time to contact charities, such as the New Bridge Foundation, who can match you with a prisoner and train you in how to correspond safely, as well as supporting you with any issues that arise.

To someone alone in the darkness today, you can be a light that illuminates the path towards a more hopeful tomorrow.


A prison experience

I am moved to write in response to reading Mark Humphries’ article, ‘Prison, ecology and stewardship’ (6 January).

It was such a heartening surprise to read Mark’s words when all we seem to hear in the media is terrible news and views of life in UK prisons – suicides, drugs, riots, understaffing, and so on.

Even the wonderfully inspiring paper Vision for a Criminal Justice System, from the Quaker Peace & Social Witness Central Committee’s (QPSWCC) Crime, Community and Justice sub-committee, in its benign recommendations inevitably and logically implied many of the ills in our current prison system.

Mark’s description of the educational and vocational opportunities offered in the system was the most optimistic news of the prison service I’ve heard for a long time, and his account of the environmental project he was involved in is so inspiring – something all institutions, including Quaker Meetings, can learn from. Mark’s frankness about his own past conviction was also very moving and salutary – a lesson in Quaker truthfulness. Thanks Mark: you’ve made my day!

Lois Chaber

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