Ban on Books in Prisons Lifted

Family and friends of prisoners will now be able to send books to them directly instead of being able only to order new books via four approved retailers, after a further relaxation of the official policy by the new justice secretary, Michael Gove. Inmates will now also be able to keep more than 12 books in their cells without needing the permission of a prison governor. Announcing the further policy changes, Gove said: “We have more than 80,000 people in custody. The most important thing we can do once they are in prison is to make sure they are usefully employed and that they get the literacy, numeracy and other skills they need for success in work.”

The original restrictions provoked a high-profile campaign organised by the Howard League for Penal Reform, which attracted support from many literary figures including the poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, David Hare, Salman Rushdie and Jeffrey Archer. The announcement by Gove was greeted by Frances Crook of the Howard League as another success for its books for prisoners campaign, adding “Mr Gove recognises the importance of reading”.