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More books for prisoners

LIMITED: The Howard League for Penal Reform and English PEN want the Prison Service to allow relatives to send their loved ones books

THE CAP on the number of books inmates can have in their cells has been scrapped following a campaign backed by leading literary figures.

The Ministry of Justice has agreed to let prisoners keep more than 12 library books in their cell, but the ban on sending books into prisons remains in place.

The change in policy, which has been introduced “with immediate effect”, follows months of campaigning from tens of thousand of people and the likes of the poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, as well as other top writers including Jacqueline Wilson, Julian Barnes and Kazuo Ishiguro.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, which is leading the campaign along with English PEN, said lifting the cap on books allowed in cells was an encouraging step.
“This is an important victory for our campaign. It is encouraging that the government has recognised the important role that books can play in rehabilitation,” she said.

The campaign continues to call on the Prison Service to allow relatives to send their loved ones books, underwear and other “essentials”.

Jo Glanville, director of English PEN, said: “Lifting this restriction is a positive step, but it does nothing to solve the underlying problem - how do prisoners get the books in the first place?”

“Access to prison libraries remains extremely limited, and the ban on family sending books directly to inmates is still in force. The Ministry of Justice must urgently rethink its Incentives and Earned Privileges policy.'”

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