Prisoners in Italy could have their sentences cut if they read more books, in contrast to the UK where prisoners are currently banned from being sent books from outside jail.
The Independent reported that the regional council of Calabria in southern Italy has approved a bill to reduce jail time by three days for every book a prisoner reads. Prisoners would be capped at 16 books a year, or 48 days.
Mario Caligiuri, Calabria’s culture representative, said: “Reading is an extraordinary antidote to unhappiness and promotes awareness and social and personal redemption.”
In the UK the government has banned prisoners from being sent books and other items in the post under the Earned Privileges Scheme.
A female inmate, known as BGJ, has decided to challenge the ban.
Writers including Carol Ann Duffy, Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes and Mark Haddon have asked the government and Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling for a meeting to discuss the ban.
Last week English PEN and the Howard League for Penal Reform said the Ministry of Justice had “effectively” refused a meeting.
Duffy said: “It is atrocious that government ministers will not even meet with the Howard League to discuss our concerns. I am particularly disappointed that this response refers to an open letter to myself which was released to the media one weekend without the Lord Chancellor even having the grace to notify me beforehand.
“I do not want to engage in a media stunt with the Lord Chancellor in visiting a prison, as I like most writers have already visited prisons and indeed wrote the foreword to an edition of the PEN Prisoners Writing Anthology.
“What I and other authors want to see is government ministers taking our concerns seriously and engaging positively and publicly with the Howard League and English PEN to address the issues we have raised.”