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When reading Will Alsop's column (AJ 03.11.05), I was alarmed by two things: firstly that the world of architecture has become so mundane and uninteresting that we turn our attention to articles that are completely pointless; and secondly that we, as readers of the AJ, should be left so stunned by the reckless attitude of a 'celebrated' architect! The article was offensive and highly insulting.

Prison aims to punish criminals and keep law-abiding members of society protected. There was a time when hard labour and harsh living conditions were a means of punishment (that is not to suggest that we should see these return). Is Will suggesting we move towards personalised cells, benefits and minimum wage?

The reality is that the prison system is not working, something needs to be done and soon. Prisons have become institutions of higher (criminal) learning and in that way fail those who choose to remain on the right side of the law. The problem is much more deep-rooted than Will suggests.

To imply that most long-term inmates are incarcerated because of five minutes of recklessness is an insult to those who have been victims of any serious crime that merits punishment of such prolonged periods. We all have moments of recklessness, some in our actions, some in our thoughts. When I have a rubbish opinion, I always try to keep it to myself!

N Wodu, via email

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