I agree with J Howard Shelley (letters, 10 April). On prisons and prison policy, it is without question right that gender considerations and concerns must go towards informing the treatment of and efforts to rehabilitate all inmates. That said, it is equally important that it should remain just one of many key factors.

The inspiring words of then home secretary Winston Churchill in 1910 spring to mind. Decent and respectful treatment of all prisoners and ‘a desire and eagerness to rehabilitate’ were then and remain now ‘the mark and measure (of) the stored up strength of a nation and… sign and proof of the living virtue in it’.

Sustainable staff-to-prisoner ratios and manageable prison numbers per establishment are the preconditions for achieving that vital aim.

Instead, what do we have? The planned squandering of precious resources on bigger and ever remoter warehouses for, largely, a non-violent, disadvantaged and dangerously vulnerable prison population, already swollen in number far beyond any public safety imperatives.

When will governments learn?

Malcolm Fowler, solicitor and higher-court advocate, Dennings, Tipton