Today a group of English PEN authors took the Books for Prisoners campaign direct to the Prime Minister
Together with the Howard League for Penal Reform, English PEN is campaigning for reform of the Ministry of Justice’s controversial Incentives & Earned Privileges scheme, which bans UK prisoners from receiving books sent to them by family members.
English PEN members Mark Haddon, Sir David Hare, Honorary Vice-President Rachel Billington and A. L. Kennedy handed in a letter to 10 Downing Street with Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform. The letter, co-signed by more than 40 authors, called for a reversal of the policy and expressed dismay that the Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling MP, has declined to meet with campaigners.
Earlier, a larger delegation that included Dame Margaret Drabble, Miriam Halamy, Kathy Lette, Ruth Padel and Sarah Waters met with Shadow Secretary of State for Justice Sadiq Khan MP, who reiterated his pledge to reverse the policy.
This morning, author and poet Jackie Kay appeared on BBC Breakfast to lend her voice to the campaign. Jackie was the judge of English PEN’s 2014 prison writing competition. You can read the winning and runner-up entries in our anthology Running to Stand Still, published earlier this year and available online.
There is still time for English PEN members and supporters to sign a petition against this policy on Change.org.