Authors in Pentonville books ban protest

Authors in Pentonville books ban protest

Writers including poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Ruth Padel, Kathy Lette, David Hare, AL Kennedy and Tracy Chevalier are taking part in a protest today (Friday 28th March) against a ban on sending books and other items to prisoners.

The writers will gather outside Pentonville prison in London along with members of the public to hold to a poetry reading, called "The Ballad of Not Reading in Gaol".

It comes after a group of authors wrote letters to the Telegraph and Evening Standard calling on secretary of state for justice Chris Grayling to reverse the ban, introduced in November 2013, which forbids prisoners from receiving packages such as books.

The ban on receiving private parcels of books, alongside other items, is part of a wider system of "incentives and earned privileges", designed to encourage prisoners to earn rewards such as access to goods by reaching certain levels of behaviour.

The government has defended the ban, saying prisoners can still get books from prison libraries.

However, a number of figures have condemned the move, including the UK's chief inspector for prisons. Labour has also pledged to repeal the ban.

The Howard League for Penal Reform is asking supporters to tweet a "Shelfie" picture to @MoJGovUK, using the hashtags #booksforprisoners and #shelfie. A "Shelfie" is "a picture of your bookshelf and represents the books that you would like to be able to send to prisoners", the campaigning body said.