Prison campaigners send books to Grayling

Prison campaigners send books to Grayling

Campaigners protesting against a ban on sending items including books to prisoners are encouraging people to send books directly to justice secretary Chris Grayling instead.

The Howard League for Penal Reform has asked people to send books to Grayling and ask him to pass it on to prisoners or a prison library, and share their chosen book on social media, using the hashtag #booksforprisoners.

In a letter sent alongside a copy of Fyodor Dostoesvsky's Crime and Punishment, the Howard League for Penal Reform's director France Crook wrote: "I am very pleased to send you a copy of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and request that you send it on to a prison that prisoners will be able to read it. As you know, the Howard League is keen that the ban on sending books and other essentials to prisoners is lifted. "

She added: "We believe that restricting access to books and to learning is counter-productive and stifles education. Learning reduced reoffending and held to pass the time in prison productively. At a time when prisons are having their budgets cut so that prisoners spend many hours locked in cells and the suicide rate has doubled, books can be a lifeline."

The Howard League has also suggested sending books to local MPs, inviting them to pass on the books to Grayling.

The book ban, which has been in place since new rules were introduced to alter prisoners rewards and punishments, has met with fierce criticism from authors and human rights groups such as English PEN. Writers including Carol Ann Duffy, Salman Rushdie and Mark Haddon have all attacked the ban, taking protests directly to Downing Street.