Act now

Our campaigns

Everything we do is focused on achieving our core campaign objectives. Your support and involvement in our campaigning work is vital to achieving less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison. We need you to act now for penal reform.

Books for prisoners

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:

1. New action - 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 are asking authors and attendees at this weekís London Book Fair to recommend which book they would like to send to a prisoner and why. These recommendations will be 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 with your name, address and the name of the book that you would like to send to a prisoner.

2. Write to Your MP

We need you to write to your MP with a letter to be forwarded on to Chris Grayling. This is a critical point in the campaign and we need to put maximum pressure on the government to reverse the ban.

When writing your letter, ask your MP 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.

3. 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 with your picture.

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

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

4. 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.

You can view and sign the petition here.

5. Join the Howard League

If you are not already a member, now is a great time to join and support out work!

More information about the campaign

No children's super-prison

Branded a 'secure college', the government is planning to build one of the largest children's prisons in Europe. At a cost of £85 million, they plan to coop up 320 troubled young people on a single site. Childrenís prisons are violent and dangerous environments which fail to turn lives around and threaten public safety.

Young people who end up in the criminal justice system have a whole host of complex needs, from backgrounds of abuse or neglect to poor educational attainment. All evidence shows these problems can be tackled through effective community sentences. They are never resolved behind the walls of a huge prison.

The very small number of children who truly require custody should be held in very small secure homes, focused on their complex welfare needs.

Instead of pursuing this wasteful and dangerous policy, the government must halt their plans, invest instead in alternatives to custody and reduce the number of children held behind bars.

Find out more about this issue on the U R Boss website, the youth participation project of the Howard League for Penal Reform.

Sign the petition

Community Sentences Cut Crime

The campaign aims to encourage public and government support for successful community sentences. We believe that well resourced and well structured programmes raise public protection, bring down the rate of offending and repay the damage done by crime in a way which custodial sentences cannot. Our Community Programmes Awards aim to promote best practice in community programmes which serve as alternatives to custody.

Children and the police

Our work on police and child arrests forms the Howard League for Penal Reformís objectives to stem the flow of people into the penal system. It specifically follows our strategic aim to reduce the number of children coming into contact with the police and to improve the quality of contact between young people and the police.

The Howard League needs you as a member.

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.

Join now!