Guide to fictional Libraries #15 Almost Fiction: Grayling’s Prison Libraries

Voices for the Library reports that Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, plans to restrict prisoners’ access to books and prison library services as part of changes to the punishment and reward system.

39624369_97a3f4a515The move reinforces the idea of a prison system that is merely punitive rather than playing a rehabilitative role, preparing many citizens for reinsertion.

travels-of-marco-poloAccess to books and reading extends opportunities for social participation, encourages reflection and helps develop a sense of social responsibility. It expands our ability to think about alternatives and evaluate our options, which for some may lead to strategies for avoiding criminal behaviour.

images“Prisoners see themselves differently; they gain confidence and self-esteem. They talk about having hope for the future, often for the first time. They feel able to envisage a different future and develop new aspirations for themselves.” (Prisoners Education Trust 2008, p.2)

index1Furthermore where would some of our greatest literary works and writers be without access to paper, pen and reading material? To list but a few books at least partly written in while in prison:

The Travels of Marco Polo

Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes

A Hymn to the Pillory, Daniel Defoe

De Profundis, Oscar Wilde

Our Lady of Flowers, Jean Genet

Justine, Marquis de Sade

portrait-of-sir-walter-raleigh-1554-1618-title-page-from-the-historie-of-the-world-by-sir-walter-raleighThomas Malory, Richard Lovelace, Walter Rayleigh, Chidiock Tichborne, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jack London,      Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela…screen-shot-2012-06-10-at-09-39-22(Oh and Mein Kampf by a certain Adolf somebody or other, but that doesn’t really serve my point so…)

Read more about this at:

http://www.voicesforthelibrary.org.uk/2014/03/grayling-ban-on-books-oin-prison/
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