Prisoners in the UK no longer allowed to receive books in the post

books in prison
Kyla Herrmannsen

A new Ministry of Justice regulation in the United Kingdom has banned the sending of small parcels to prisoners. This means prisoners will no longer be allowed to receive books as gifts from their families through the postal service. The ban on small parcels also applies to socks and underwear. Inmates will now only be allowed to receive letters and cards from family members.

The ban is part of a new ‘Incentives and Earned Privileges’ regime which will see good behaviour – and engaging in rehabilitative activities – rewarded financially. Prisoners will then need to access these funds in order to purchase books from the prison.

Many well-known authors have criticised the new ‘rehabilitation’ policy, describing the new rules as “despicable”. Philip Pullman, children’s author, has described the ban on small parcels as “one of the most disgusting, mean, vindictive acts of a barbaric government.”

Mark Haddon contextualised the blow to constructive rehabilitation, saying “People tend to think there’s us, and then there are the prisoners, but these are people who will be our future neighbours and colleagues.”

Crime novelist, Ian Rankin, has also criticised the ban, saying books are important behind bars as they are key in “promoting literacy and connecting prisoners to society.”

But, Jeremy Wright, the Prisons Minister has defended the ban saying it’s intention is to bolster security – and curb drugs and other contraband being sent to prisoners.

Those against the ban have argued that the Ministry of Justice’s new rehabilitation approach will actually hamper rehabilitation.

Read more on the small parcels ban here:

Grayling hits back at critics over ban on sending books to prisoners

Authors campaign against ban on sending books to prisoners

Ministers defend ban on sending books to prisoners in England and Wales

‘Let prisoners receive books in the post,’ thousands of petitioners urge Justice Secretary Chris Grayling










About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

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