The Gazette is to be commended for keeping its eye on the ball over prisons and prison reform (leader, 26 June).

With so much else going on and the clamouring for attention from all sides, this beleaguered government must have been hoping to be able to park this ever more troubling and socially divisive issue indefinitely. As honest brokers, the Law Society should publicly deplore that continued dereliction of duty and give the administration no peace until urgent steps are taken.

The message is clear: empty the prisons. They are full, largely, of non-violent offenders far better and much more economically diverted from crime while in the community. Then the violent and dangerous who must remain locked up can be much better and more effectively contained; the ruinous haemorrhaging of public funds to no good purpose would  become a relative trickle; and the current, inexorable drift towards the US-style ‘point of no return’ might be halted before it becomes too late.

Malcolm Fowler, solicitor and higher-court advocate, Kings Heath, Birmingham