Act now

Books for prisoners campaign

The Howard League for Penal Reform is campaigning to reverse a Ministry of Justice ban on family and friends sending books and essentials to prisoners. The response from the public has been overwhelming, and we need to keep the momentum.

This is what you can do to support our campaign:

A Night in the Cells

The Howard League for Penal Reform, in association with Pavilion Books and The Book Trade Charity, took part in a special event to highlight the Howard League's campaign to maintain access to books for prisoners in England and Wales. 

A Night in the Cells (#CellNight) saw a range of high-profile figures from the literary and arts world, including publishers and literary agents, competing to be one of six people locked up in cells in the Pavilion Books offices by raising funds through JustGiving page. The top six fundraisers spent the night in a cell.

All donations will be split equally between the Howard League for Penal Reform and The Book Trade Charity.

Name the book

To keep the pressure on the Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling MP, English PEN and the Howard League for Penal Reform asked authors and attendees at the London Book Fair to recommend which book they would like to send to a prisoner and why. These recommendations have been published on the English PEN website and social media to keep the literary conversation going.

We need YOU to be part of this action too!

Tweet the name of the book that you would like to send to a prisoner and the reason, using the hashtag #booksforprisoners and the twitter handle @englishpen and @thehowardleague.

If you donít use social media, email info@howardleague.org with your name, address and the name of the book that you would like to send to a prisoner.

Write to Your MP

This is a critical point in the campaign and we need to put maximum pressure on the government to reverse the ban.

Write to you MP and ask them to send your letter to Chris Grayling Ė that way it gets through to his private office. Please express your outrage that prisonersí access to books and other essentials is being curtailed, and use any arguments about literacy, culture, and rehabilitation that you wish. Please, do ask your MP questions as this guarantees that you will not simply be sent a pro-forma response.

Examples of questions:

  • How many books that have been sent in by reputable retailers have been found to contain drugs?
  • How often can prisoners visit the library in xxxxx prison? (use your local)
  • Who runs the library in xxxxx prison and what is its budget?
  • Which outlets can prisoners buy books from in the prison?
  • Can prisoners get specialist books from the library if they have a hobby or are doing a course?

Please send a copy of the reply to the Howard League.

Send a 'shelfie'

We are asking supporters to tweet a 'shelfie' picture to @MoJGovUK, using the hashtags #booksforprisoners and #shelfie. A 'Shelfie' is a picture of your bookshelf and represents the books that you would like to be able to send to prisoners. If you donít use Twitter, you can email us at info@howardleague.org with your picture.

An example of the tweet to go with your picture would read:

.@MoJGovUK Hereís my shelfie for prisoners! @TheHowardLeague #booksforprisoners #shelfie

Sign the petition

The petition urges the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling to  reverse the ban on family and friends sending books and essentials to prisoners.

Sign the petition.

Join the Howard League

We need more members to give greater strength to our campaigns and to create a mass movement for change. By joining you will give us a bigger voice and give vital financial support to our work. If you are not already a member, now is a great time to join and support out work!

Find out more

Find out more information about Books for Prisoners Campaign.