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As the admired poet, activist and lawyer Pauli Murray wrote quite some time ago, hope is a song from a weary throat.

The (very) early signs are good and I SO VERY MUCH hope that Alex Chalk KC will prove a worthy holder of his dual roles.

Not one of the previous six incumbents - one of them, indeed, twice- so much as threatened to take either of those roles seriously and rather treated the entire proposition as a handy- or perhaps unavoidable and irksome- stepping stone to a more career enhancing ministry “worthy” of her/his talents.

As to prisons, Mr. Chalk is surely altogether aware of what needs to be done in order to begin at least to work towards a system we can so many of us support rather than continuing to condemn it as the domestic and international scandal it is.

And, yes, of course, let us start with the blindingly obvious and shockingly overdue reform of the stale IPP sentences.

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