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UK Bans Sending Books To Prisoners 220

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-thoughts-are-dangerous dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "Alan Travis and Mark Tran report in The Guardian that new rules introduced by the justice secretary in the UK ban anyone sending in books to prisoners It's part of a new earned-incentives and privileges scheme, which allows better-behaved prisoners to get better access to funds to buy their own books. But members of Britain's literary establishment have combined to condemn Justice Secretary Chris Grayling's ban on sending books to prisoners. 'While we understand that prisons must be able to apply incentives to reward good behavior by prisoners, we do not believe that education and reading should be part of that policy,' says a letter signed by more than 80 leading authors. 'Books represent a lifeline behind bars, a way of nourishing the mind and filling the many hours that prisoners spend locked in their cells. In an environment with no internet access and only limited library facilities, books become all the more important.' Prime Minister David Cameron's official spokesman says the prime minister backs the ban on receiving books and entirely supports Grayling, whose department imposed the ban to preserve a rigid system of rewards and punishments for prisoners and said there was no need for prisoners to be sent books as prisoners could borrow from prison libraries and keep some reading material in their cells. However a former prisoner told the Guardian that although libraries existed, access could be severely restricted, particularly in closed prisons. 'I've been in places where prisoners only get 20 minutes a week to visit the library and change books.'"
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UK Bans Sending Books To Prisoners

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  • England != UK (Score:5, Informative)

    by Titus Groan (2834723) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @08:29AM (#46582959)
    I feel like I'm repeating myself a lot. England & Wales does not equal the UK. This ban does not apply to Scotland where the prison service is a devolved body. Sending books to prisoners is only banned in PART of the UK.
  • Re:Oh well. (Score:5, Informative)

    by BasilBrush (643681) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @08:44AM (#46583079)

    Just the part the limits a way for people to sneak drugs and all kinds of shit in.

    Ignore the minister's political excuses, and look at the complete set of changes in rules. They are here:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/... [www.gov.uk]

    As you see, they are all about the restriction of privileges. The ministers comment about searching parcels for drugs is just a red herring. A lie. You should have been able to tell - his lips moved.

    The problem that has been highlighted is that reading should not be considered to be a privilege, but part of rehabilitation.

  • by evilandi (2800) <andrew@aoakley.com> on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @08:52AM (#46583125) Homepage

    The UK has a problem with Islamic extremist gangs in prisons. Printed material from external well-wishers and visitors is a huge contributory factor. This problem is far, far worse than any right-ring white gangs in US jails.

    For example at the high security prison near Evesham, there is a large gang who slash the faces of anyone who refuses to convert to their brand of Islam. This isn't widely acknowledged by the prisons service, but it leaks out through staff such as prison nurses, who have to deal with the end results.

  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @09:08AM (#46583243)

    I see the problem of islamic gang(s) that was highlighted at HMP Long Lartin.

    The parallels are not only to right-wing white gangs in US jails, but to black and hispanic gangs there. If there's enough inmates feeling that they have a common kinship, then they are quite likely to form a gang, and of course bully those who are not in the gang into conformity with the gangs norms.

    The problem there seems to be that the Muslim population has reached 25% in that particular prison, presumably many drawn from the islamic fundamentalists groups.

    But I don't see any reference to printed material having any bearing on this. Do you have a citation for that?

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