I for one am appalled by this book ban

I find this book ban by the British Government Justice Secretary appalling.

'In one country prisoners can get four days off their sentence for every book they read, in another a ban on sending books to prisoners is being introduced.
The first country – not generally known for its enlightened prison system – is Brazil; the second country – to our shame – is the UK .

The book ban is one aspect of a raft of measures introduced by justice secretary Chris Grayling which would appear to have no purpose other than to make the life of inmates just that little bit more unendurable, while making Mr Grayling look more of a tough guy to the public.

Anyone with any heart would deplore measures that include prisoners not being allowed to receive homemade birthday cards from their children, but as the chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform Frances Crook rightly says, the book ban is not just nasty but bizarre.

A Sao Paulo lawyer, who leads a book donation project for prisons, said about the Brazilian initiative, “a person can leave prison… with an enlarged vision of the world” as a result of the reading they do while confined. And the Guardian columnist Erwin James, who served twenty years of a life sentence before being released in 2004, has observed that “the books I read in prison… helped me to become who I should have been”.

We badly need politicians with the bravery and far sightedness to reform our criminal justice system and ensure that fewer offenders are locked up unnecessarily.

Before the change of regime at the Ministry of Justice, in which the more liberal Ken Clarke was replaced by the more authoritarian Chris Grayling, there were some heartening signs that the use of community based restorative justice and neighbourhood justice panels were being championed by the government.

Now we seem to be back to the bad old days of ‘prison works’.

Of course, even the most enlightened criminal justice system would need to include prisons, and for many crimes only a custodial sentence – sometimes a long one – is necessary and just. But as long as people are in prison, encouraging them to read, among other activities to aid their rehabilitation, is surely the way to go.

Instead with have this deeply reactionary step.

The Booker shortlisted novelist Linda Grant has already talked of a campaign by writers to fight this ban, and perhaps one thing we could all do is to deluge the prison system with books we think prisoners might like to read.'

Tim Finch, author of this article called it not just nasty but bizarre.

Perhaps we can deluge prisons with our unwanted books!

See link: http://www.leftfootforward.org/2014/03/the-prison-book-ban-is-not-just-nasty-but-bizarre/

I find it hard enough to "survive" life on the outside without my fix of a good book. I'd never manage it whilst doing time! What a nasty, misinformed, POS this Grayling must be!!

I have just googled this subject and there is a petition on Change.org for us to sign and add our comments, which I have done.
Having spoken to my husband about this, he tells me that packages were being used to smuggle drugs into prisons.
If that is the case, why cannot they open and search the packages? I do understand that this needs manpower, but more prison officers means less unemployed.
This is the same petty attitude where all the children in a class were punished because no one would say who had caused a problem. It was wrong then and it is wrong now.

Jane, and all here, I am emailing authors that i know. I hope that enough positive response will start a groundswell. I don't think that it should just be about authors sending their books, but the ordinary reader as well. As you can see from the letter below, I'm assessing support before we decide when and which prison.


British Government Justice Minister Bans The Sending Of Books To Prisons

‘In one country prisoners can get four days off their sentence for every book they read, in another a ban on sending books to prisoners is being introduced.

The first country – not generally known for its enlightened prison system – is Brazil; the second country – to our shame – is the UK, booktrade info tells us.’

For more information see Tim Finch’s article at:


Where Tim describes the action by minister Chris Grayling as not just nasty but bizarre.

Are we moving towards a fascist state where the next action will be the banning and burning of books by our Conservative government? Over dramatic, I hope.

A recent report found that people who read are more compassionate and understanding of the feelings and situations of those around them. Mr Grayling obviously did not read the report. The findings would particularly apply to a person serving a sentence in prison.

I’m emailing you to ask whether you would feel able to send a book to a prison. I want to find out the interest, initially, before we decide the date and prison.

If you are interested in taking part please reply to the email address below, and circulate, if you feel able to, to fellow authors and publishers.

Yours with best wishes

Glyn Pope


I intend to start a new thread, here and on writers and bloggers so all can pick up on it.

Utterly appalling…what an evil proposal

I find this appalling.
How small minded and lacking of any knowledge of the redeeming nature of books is being shown by Chris Grayling.
Please,keep us up to date of any petition etc we can support.

I am with you all the way on this. It is moral fascism in that it is a double punishment as well as deprivation of normal means of gaining information. People are sentenced to imprisonment but not to dehumanisation. This negates any concept of rehabilitation. Does it mean that the clients of a charity I used to be a trustee of and who helped people do OU degrees can no longer receive text books? The horrendous chain of similar outcomes I can imagine that simply have no rationale is frightening. Prisons are far too full of people who should be non-custodial to begin with, as certain political persons with close association and jobs in the present government have to their records but are conveniently forgotten. Reactionary hypocrites who should be cleaned out of parliament the lot of them who support this kind of brutalising policy.

Yes, whatever we can contribute to stopping this injustice then we should do it.

It beggars belief that a simple, harmless form of entertainment/education could possibly be banned in what is supposed to be a first world country. A book is perhaps one way prisoners have of escaping to another world and of improving their situation. Will study books still be allowed? Reason doesn't seem to come into this decision.

I've just been reading this and I couldn't agree with you more. It's not only inhumane and not worthy of a supposedly "civilised" country, it's got to be counter-productive too. All it's going to do is alienate prisoners because it's so petty and unecessary and what will it achieve?