Tag Archives: Howard League

Books in Prisons

The Minister of Justice in the UK, Chris Grayling, has banned relatives and friends from sending books to prisoners. And the justification is that the acquisition of books will be part of a punishment/reward scheme. Prisoners will still be able to have books in their cells.

This policy needs to be challenged. Books after all, are a right, not to be confused with treats, or punishment. Any civilised society will be encouraging prisoners to read, read, read. Not making reading something to be earned for good behaviour. Books should not be part of a control scheme.

The Howard League for Penal Reform and others have been objecting to this ill-considered policy. The Howard League’s chief executive Frances Crook wrote about the ban for politics.co.uk.

This is a letter to the Telegraph signed by many writers on the subject.

SIR – We are extremely concerned at new rules that ban family and friends sending in books to prisoners. Whilst we understand that prisons must be able to apply incentives to reward good behaviour by prisoners, we do not believe that education and reading should be part of that policy. Books represent a lifeline behind bars, a way of nourishing the mind and filling the many hours that prisoners spend locked in their cells.  In an environment with no internet access and only limited library facilities, books become all the more important.

We urge the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling, to reconsider the Prison Service Instruction that limits books and other essentials being sent to prisoners from family and friends.


The full list of signatories can be found here. It’s an impressive list.

This policy seems so short-sighted; don’t we want to encourage prisoners to read more? And so mean spirited; what will prisoners be refused next: food? sleep? lawyers?

Speak out! You could start by signing the petition at change.org petition.


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Filed under Books, Reading