20 AUGUST 1948, Page 16


Sut,—Mr. R. H. Cecil's excellent article in The Spectator of August 13th does not suggest a remedy for our overcrowded-prisons, which are likely to remain in this very unsatisfactory state for a long time. May I do so even at the risk of being abused by a number of eminent gentlemen ? It is simply that the prisoners (carefully selected men of good record) should build the places themselves, especially as what is apparently wanted today is not these castellated monstrosities of the "Early Holloway" style, but classrooms, workrooms, messrooms and dormitories. I know I shall probably be told by architects, building surveyors, trade union organisers and the Prison Commissioners, that this is a ridiculous suggestion, but I shall need a lot of convincing that it is not better than sitting down doing nothing. I am quite convinced that any average body of Englishmen, inside or outside prison, if faced with a frightful situation like this, could, with a small amount of technical supervision, put up most of the buildings required. I imagine too that many prisoners would prefer this constructive job to making mail-bags and doing some of the other monotonous tasks of prison life.—Yours truly, L. D. tANIMANS. House of Commons.