ROBERT Goodman says our courts must ignore Ken Clark, and adopt the US penal system, where criminals are punished appropriately. Reading Robert’s letter you would think that the US is a crime-free paradise. We may be in a bit of a mess, Robert, but compared to the US, we live in a haven of tranquillity.

Prison is not a deterrent. Even when prisons were inhumane institutions, they were still full of criminals. Hanging didn’t stop murder.

Yes, we must put those who are a danger to society behind bars.

But sending petty criminals to prison only produces hardened criminals. It costs a fortune to keep someone in jail. That money could be put to far better use.

Brian Derbyshire Ribchester Grove Bolton