Books in Prison - Legitimate Escape Methods

Books in Prison - Legitimate Escape Methods

10 Apr 2018, 17:30 - 18:30

Club Room, National Hall Gallery

Back in 2014, then Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, decided that books in prison were a Bad Thing. He spent £72,000 of UK taxpayer’s money to defend his position but failed when the High Court ruled his ban unlawful.

Things have certainly improved, but prisons impose their own restrictions which are as unpredictable as the weather. One allows books to go direct to the prisoner, another allows inmates to order only from  ‘approved suppliers’. With some prisons books can go in via the library, a tutor, or chaplain; other prisons allow books to be sent in only by friends or family. Considering that around 50% of young offenders and 25% of adult offenders come out of the care system and have no family, this is just adding insult to injury. 

Whether people are asking for course books, dictionaries, guitar tutorials, biographies or fiction, books help people in prison to pass their time constructively and creatively and can play a huge part in guiding people back towards life on the outside and avoiding re-offending. As The Reading Agency stated: “We believe that books are essential to every prisoner's rehabilitation rather than a privilege to be earned”.

People NEED books to learn, to dream, to stay sane, to stay alive. Mental health statistics and suicides in prison are horrendously high, and if books can go some way to alleviate these problems then they should go into prisons by the pallet load.


This seminar is presented to you by LBF 2018 Charity of the Year 'Kittiwake Trust'.


  • Amina Marix Evans


    Founder/ Trustee

    The Kittiwake Trust / Borderline Books

    Amina has been involved with books since her first job at the library of the Institute of Race Relations in the late 1960s. She subsequently worked...

  • David Kendall


    Reader Development Specialist

    David Kendall is a reader development specialist. Over the last two decades he has worked mainly with marginalised individuals and groups such as:...

  • Erwin James


    Journalist and Editor in Chief


    Erwin James Monahan was born to itinerant Scottish parents in Somerset in 1957. A family lifestyle described as, “brutal and rootless” by a prison...

  • Frances Crook


    Chief Executive

    Howard League for Penal Reform

    Appointed Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform in 1986, Frances Crook has been responsible for research programmes and campaigns to...

  • Luke Billingham


    Trustee & Volunteer

    Haven Distribution

    Luke is a trustee & volunteer at Haven Distribution, a small volunteer-led charity which has been sending books to prisoners all over the UK since...

  • Mike Kirby


    Former prison Governor and Trustee

    Kittiwake Trust

    After working as an accountant for an engineering firm Mike joined the prison service in May 1980. He worked at remand centres in London and the...

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