Praise Reversal of Ban on Books in Prisons


Target: Honorable High Court Justice Collins

Goal: Applaud removal of restrictions for prison inmates receiving reading material from family and friends

British prisoners can again receive books in the mail thanks to a High Court ruling that deemed a ban on receiving books and parcels while incarcerated unlawful. Previously, prisoners could only access books through the prison’s library or commissary, and there was a limit on how many books an inmate could possess in their cell at any given time. Since 2013, books have been considered an “earned privilege,” and access to them has been used as an incentive to improve behavior and reduce drug usage in England’s prisons.

Barbara Gordon-Jones, an inmate of the British prison system with a degree and a doctorate in English literature initially challenged the ban in court. She stated that an erratic library schedule and a shortage of guards to escort prisoners can leave some inmates without access to books for weeks at a time.

Books and the education they provide can be an integral part of the rehabilitation process, contributing to improved life skills and mental health. A study by the United States Departments of Justice and Education showed that access to books and learning materials reduces recidivism.

The judge hearing the case was shocked to hear books referred to as a privilege, and sided with Gordon-Jones’ assertion that literature is integral to education and therefore, a right. Without adequate reading material, prisoners can be left wasting time that could otherwise be spent focusing on their rehabilitation. Sign the petition below to praise the High Court’s ruling, and thank them for defending the right to read in prisons.


Dear Honorable Mr. Justice Collins,

Inmates in British prisons can again receive books in the mail from outside friends, family, and organizations. For over a year, prisons placed severe limitations on parcel mail in order to combat violence and drug smuggling. Prisoners had a limit on the amount of books they could have, and they were only allowed to access them through prison libraries or commissaries.

It has been proven that literature and education in prison leads to a decrease in recidivism. Books can teach valuable life skills, helping to rehabilitate inmates and prepare them to return to civilian life. We, the undersigned, thank you for striking down a ludicrous ban on books and ensuring that all prisoners have access to reading materials.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Johannes Jansson via Creative Commons

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