GraylingThe current UK government’s thuggish vote-catching populist policy of denying prisoners books seems to be backfiring on multiple levels as the Howard League for Penal Reform, and other groups and individuals, make their own bids for media attention. In one recent incident, recorded on live TV, “supporters of the Howard League for Penal Reform’s Books For Prisoners campaign … held up books and bore silent witness while Justice Secretary Chris Grayling faced questions from the justice select committee. Campaigners displayed copies of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime And Punishment while sitting in the public gallery.”

Dostoyevsky’s Crime And Punishment seems to have become the signature volume for the campaign. The Howard League has also mailed copies of the book, with a covering letter (below), and is encouraging others to do the same.

The Howard League couches this as an open invitation to donate to prison libraries, with a two-pronged approach either via donors’ local MP or direct to Grayling himself. The League’s announcement states:

From poetry readings outside Pentonville prison to dignified displays of opposition at Downing Street, our Books For Prisoners campaign activities have received huge support and made headlines across the globe. Now we are taking the campaign a step further – by sending books to Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and asking him to pass them on to prison libraries.

Seems like a worthwhile cause to donate your used books to if ever there was.


Howard League


  1. I am sure if they have read “Crime and Punishment”, they will allow it in prisons. The book is about a student who committed a murder and is being very afraid that someone finds it out and put him in jail! After reading this, anyone will have second thoughts before they try to commit any crime.

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