IN response to the letter from a Mr Arthur Williams published in last week’s Wiltshire Times I feel that I must comment on his remarks. 
As a retired prison officer of 18 years it is apparent that this gentleman does not have a clue about what goes on with inmates who are serving time. 
I served in a number of different category establishments and it was generally felt that the vast number of inmates were in the prisons by choice. 
At one time I asked an inmate why he was in prison as he was a very talented artist and he made a lot of money (tobacco) from various sources within the prison. 
His argument was simple, he didn’t have a mortgage to pay, he had three meals a day that he didn’t have to shop or pay for, he was in a nice warm room in a bed at night; on recreation he had TV; and had a radio in his cell so he was happy. 
In addition he did some cleaning on the wing where he was living and he was paid for doing it. He spent his earnings in the prison canteen and it was enough to get his treats and tobacco for the week. 
The reason prisons are like they are today is because opinions like this gentleman’s are maintained by the people who run the service. I am a firm believer that a prison sentence first and foremost should be a punishment and criminals should be made to earn their release. 
Taking away a person’s freedom is not a punishment because prison is a better environment than what they are living in on the outside. 
Lastly, the rehabilitation of criminals is a welfare problem and not the responsibility of the serving officers.
Secondly, in light of Terry Chivers having a whinge and whine every week, why not give him a column of his own?
Richard M Hayes
Paxcroft Way