As a prisoner, I know Bishop Moth is right

SIR – I write to offer my gratitude to Bishop Richard Moth for highlighting the desperate fact that “Britain is failing prisoners” (February 24). Indeed, levels of suicide, self-harm and difficulties around issues of mental health are at a record high, and this situation is deplorable in any civilised society and needs the urgent attention of Government.

Speaking for myself, I know why I was sent to prison. I know that I deserve a prison sentence; I believe that many prisoners would say the same. What prisoners do not deserve is to be dumped within a system awash with drugs, where threats and actual violence are a daily occurrence, suicide levels are an obscene reality, and prison officers are stretched physically and mentally to breaking point.

This is the sad situation within many of our prisons (thankfully not at all here at the prison from which I write). Thus we can all share Bishop Moth’s hope “that the Government seriously considers options to safely reduce prison populations”.

As a Catholic, I would add a hope to that of Bishop Moth’s: I would hope that the Catholic community do all they can to support the work of Catholic chaplains within our prisons. In the prison where I reside we rely upon the sacrifice of two already overstretched priests who as “volunteers” attend to offer the Mass twice a month, and a volunteer lay woman, whose dedication to our welfare is nothing short of saintly. But because of work commitments she cannot attend other than for a couple of hours on Saturday morning to bring us Communion when Mass is not available.

Most of all, I would hope that you would remember all prisoners, all prison staff and all victims of crime in your prayers, for which I thank you.

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