March 25th, 2014

50 Shades of Grayling

Flailing Chris Grayling is trying to fight back at the Howard League of Penal Reform – and pretty much everyone else – for claiming he is banning books from being sent to prison inmates. Writing for ConHome the Justice Secretary insists they have got the wrong end of of his massive stick:

“You can keep up to twelve books in your cell at any one time. All prisoners can access well-stocked prison libraries. The biggest debate I have had over prison libraries so far is whether they should stock 50 Shades of Grey. I decided they could – since if doing so encourages women prisoners to read, that can only be a good thing.

But that’s not all. Prisoners can use their own prison earnings to order any book (within reason) that they want through the prison shop. The only restriction is on receiving unknown and unchecked parcels. What the left can’t deal with is our rehabilitation agenda. It goes against the grain for them. Our approach is to mix tough and compassionate – and to do things differently to get the job done.”

It seems the debate comes down to the fact that books are considered a privilege item. Despite asking Guido is yet to see an example of where they have been banned. Despite the hype…


  1. 1

    Lying scum fucks all of them, meanwhile in Holland…

  2. 2
    Layabout telly addict and couch potato druggie says:


  3. 3
    Liberal logic says:

    Having proved that soft prisons don’t work we should maybe look at abolishing prisons altogether

  4. 4
    Newsfox says:

    “The only restriction is on receiving unknown and unchecked parcels.” ie something that might contain a book.

    The libraries are not at all well stocked and prisoners aren’t going to buy books with tiny amounts they earn.

    And when these sensory starved individuals get back out, they of course commit more crime, with no doubt less scruples.

    Libertarian Right’s ‘true’ answer to crime is South Africa – where people spend millions on gated communities and everybody keeps a gun. Not my scene personally.

  5. 5
    jgm2 says:

    Personally I have no problem with prisoners having books but then I’m in a bit of a minority hereabouts in that I think criminals should have the vote. All of them. Aye, even the murderers.

    But if the meme perpetuates that a Tory is withholding books from prisoners that can only be a ‘plus’ in terms of votes from the hang-em-and-flog-em brigade (of which I’m also a member).

    Best of both world for the Tories as far as I’m concerned. You’re not going to get many people marching in the streets just because they think some prisoners are doing without their Dostoyevsky.

  6. 6
    The Cake of Doom says:

    “… whether they should stock 50 Shades of Grey. I decided they could – since if doing so encourages women prisoners to read, that can only be a good thing.”

    ‘Men prisoners’ don’t get the chance to read that paragon of twenty-first century literature, then?

  7. 7
    Bosun Higgs says:

    ‘100 Years of Solitude’ goes down well at Long Lartin, I’m told.

  8. 8
    Liberal logic says:

    Your 100% more likely to go to prison if you are young,black carry a knife and rob people.
    There is obviously something wrong with the system.

  9. 9
    Mark Gullick says:

    Are prisoners allowed to have Kindles, or similar?

  10. 10
    jgm2 says:

    Give ‘em an ASBO, it’s the only language they understand.

  11. 11
    Mitch says:

    Not really. The problem is the one you highlight – not now being able to receive books by post. Prison wages are too small to buy books, and the library won’t necessarily stock what they want. Therefore, the best (only) way to get the books they want is from outside.

    You could argue that prisoners shouldn’t have books, but if they are going to have them then at least let them have the ones they want. Parcels can easily be checked for prohibited items.

    The government is being petty and un-reasonable over this.

  12. 12
    Wot U on about geedo? says:

    What Hype is this?

    Not once have I ever heard books for prisoners ever discussed, anywhere, never.

  13. 13
    Mitch says:

    Grayling talks tough but is actually quite weak and has implemented few real reforms. He is certainly not a “flayer”.

  14. 14
    Ma­q­bo­­ul says:

    “You’re…”. You should read more.

  15. 15
    Walk the walk says:

    Welcome an ex con into your home for rehabilitation then.

  16. 16
    C.O.Jones says:

    “And when these sensory starved individuals get back out, they of course commit more crime, with no doubt less scruples. ”

    Oh my sides are aching. Thank you for that.

  17. 17
    Ma­q­bo­­ul says:

    I suspect that they’d rather have magazines and that the outcry comes from without not within.

  18. 18
    RomaBob...benefits for all! says:

    Benefits for all and human rights, this is why we love this country :)

  19. 19
    jgm2 says:

    Yeah. I robbed this old lady because I was deprived of Dickens while in the slammer.

  20. 20
    Mitch says:

    If they want mainstream porn then let them have that as well.

  21. 21
    who cares says:

    Flaying or Flayling?

    Need a sub

  22. 22
    Mr Woy says:

    Maybe we should just abolish all prisoners.

  23. 23
    Mind the gap says:

    The men get the Dulux colour card…

  24. 24
    Ken something or other says:

    Little scampy wampys.

  25. 25
    C.O.Jones says:

    The only way to reduce crime is to give American style sentencing. Repeat offenders cannot re offend because they don’t get out of nick till they are well past retirement age. Fuck their rehabilitation, it does not work for career criminals.

  26. 26
    Not in my name says:

    So is this really about the Prison Service being not able or unwilling to check packages, book containing or otherwise?

    Which sounds odd

  27. 27
    Gerbil 7 says:


  28. 28
    Mitch says:

    Just because they’re in prison doesn’t mean we have to be inhumane to them. Churchill said treating prisoners properly was a duty of a mature democracy.

  29. 29
    Mitch says:

    It is, and it isn’t obvious why they can’t/won’t. I suspect it’s about smuggling drugs, but idiots like Grayling are happy for it to appear as toughness.

  30. 30
    C.O.Jones says:

    That is a bit extreme. The death penalty should not be used for most crimes. The radicals on this site amaze me!!!

  31. 31
    Phil from Pentonville says:

    How do you think so many prisoners get as high as a kite?

  32. 32
    Mary Antoinette says:

    If they want to read a book then why do they not use their iPads instead ?

  33. 33
    jgm2 says:

    Book’s pages all dipped in LSD?

  34. 34
    Fuck you, BBC! says:

    MPs have backed plans to give the government power to decriminalise non-payment of the TV licence fee.

  35. 35
    Crooked Cunt says:

    Frances Crook of the Howard League is a rotten, despicable human being who’s spent her entire life concerned about the welfare of r*pists, serial killers, p*edophiles, muggers and murderers.

    Plus, she says NO woman criminal should EVER be imprisoned! Ever! She thinks female criminals should get special treatment.

  36. 36
    Mitch says:

    Be careful what you wish for; this has gone through too easily.

  37. 37
    Ma­q­bo­­ul says:

    We’re not talking nightly thrashings here – they are being restricted to no more than 12 books unless they earn more, poor things. Get a grip man.

  38. 38
    Phoney Benn says:

    My Agent is sending copies of the drearies for the inmates.
    Put the kettle on.

  39. 39

    talking of grays and entities of that ilk are our annunaki overlords returning?

  40. 40
    Kate says:

    Yeah, that’s worked really well for the US, where crime is consistently on the increase. What a breathtakingly stupid comment you’ve made. Hope it’s satire.

  41. 41
    jgm2 says:

    Good point. The suggestion is that a civil case is less rigorous than a criminal case which apparently requires a signed confession at the moment.

    I reckon the word had got out and more and more people were simply declining to sign confessions and Crapita wasn’t making as much money as they’d planned so they’ve lobbied for, and got, a change in the law to make it easier to prosecute single mums.

  42. 42
    Mr Woy says:

    If I was radical I’d suggest abolishing judges as well, but I don’t want to go down that route at least not yet.

  43. 43
    Long John Silver' parrot says:

    Remember when you make your Will to bequeath all your books to HMP.

  44. 44
    Mitch says:

    Losing their liberty is punishment enough. If having books helps them reflect on things then all well and good. If they choose to wipe their @rse on the pages then so be it.

  45. 45
    rick says:

    Worry not. In the not too distant future, England will be subject to Sharia law. Thieves will loose limbs and murderers will be decapitated. Many of the present prisons will need to be closed due to lack of inmates.

  46. 46
    Dick Scratcher says:

    We also assume that the crims can read…

  47. 47
    A Prime Ministerial Question says:

    Will the Prime Minister tell us how many books have been bequeathed to Her Majesty’s Prison Service during the life time of this Parliament ?

  48. 48
    Kate says:

    It is most likely because staff cuts mean that they haven’t got the resources to do searches. So they’ve introduced this blanket ban on sent-in items. In the end, it comes down to Grayling’s failure. The ban even extends to children not being able to send in a homemade birthday card to their parent or other relative. And for all the usual nonsense spouted in comments on this blog, anyone trying to defend Grayling’s measure is either thick or utterly without compassion or maybe an exquisite combination of the two.

  49. 49
    T Bone says:

    Aren’t our prisons overflowing with muslim sex offenders and groid murderers?

    Are books really their thing?

  50. 50
    a cheeky scouser says:

    The average County Court fee is now about £300.

    This will be added to the £145 fee itself.

    Then of course there will be the Bailiffs fees when they seek to repossess the second hand TVs.

  51. 51
    P l e b says:

    Trouble is, Kate, it’s very hard to feel compassion for Michael Adobolajo, isn’t it?

  52. 52

    It’s another Labour inspired straw man argument. Invent a “scandal” and get the government to deny or defend, thereby fabrication some credibilty. Just look who are making the allegations – the criminals’ friends anddefenders the Howard League and Prison Reform Trust, all full of leftie Labour placemen.

  53. 53
    jgm2 says:

    ‘Crime’ is on the rise because the US prisons make money from their prisoners so they invent new ‘crimes’ and bring pressure to bear to make sure the ‘crimes’ that do occur get long sentences.

    The Chinese do the same.

  54. 54
    C.O.Jones says:

    Show me the figures please Kate.

    “where crime is consistently on the increase”

    Seems that talking crap off the top of your head comes naturally to you. I recently read a study on crime in America and “incarceration” works and it totally refutes your unfounded statement. Source of your information please.

  55. 55
    an awkward bastard says:

    Just wait until you get 860 litigants in person attending Liverpool County Court to say they do not have a TV , have a perfectly valid Defence or simply want time to pay at the rate of .20p a week.

  56. 56

    Damn, it should say “….thereby giving the fabrication some credibility…”

  57. 57
    jgm2 says:

    Surely it’ll be a small claims court? No fees or very low if they’re only claiming £148.

  58. 58
    Phil from Pentonville says:

    Regarding the abject state of prison libraries will the Prime Minister outline to us the steps he has taken since coming to power to encourage people to donate books to the Prison Service ?

  59. 59
    Pitkapoika says:

    How many of the Great Unwashed who aren’t in prison possess 12 books ?
    What percentage of the Great Unwashed can actually read
    The brouhaha has been stirred up by the Champagne Socialists who style themselves Authors.

  60. 60
    Ma­q­bo­­ul says:

    Whoops, didn’t realise I was talking to a criminal psychologist.

  61. 61
  62. 62
    Sue "Gideons" Denim says:

    Perhaps we should start leaving a copy of “Crime and Punishment” in every cell?

  63. 63
    Anonymous says:

    Meacher has asked straight up how many people have had their benefits stopped and been told he cannot have this information because the costs would be ” disproportionate”.

    Prisoners cannot have books because the staff cannot be arsed to check the packages.

    This could all be linked to the Austerity measures kicking in.

    On the other hand it could simply be a case of “fuck you, I am only here for my crap pay cheque” .

  64. 64
    Nemesis says:

    Looks like a man with sense is just confirming what we already know that drugs etc are smuggled in for prisoners in their books etc. They should all be given a concrete cell with one blanket and kept locked up for 23 hours a day without TV and only books that would improve their criminal minds – fucking scum the lot of ‘em.

  65. 65
    broderick crawford says:


    yeah books are all very well but so passe’.

    Do our dear lost soul “remand clients” yet have the use of personal iPads in their cells for 23 hours a day and if yes are they free to download all forms of porn , submission , bestiality etc.?

    Only in this way will recidivist behaviour be curtailed.

  66. 66
    Firm But Fair says:

    These “Howard League” people should be banged up for spreading lies

  67. 67
    Cinna says:

    FFS! It’s a prison not a holiday camp.

  68. 68
    broderick crawford says:

    … or the term open prison could be taken to its logical extreme with “members ” required to attend only once daily at a time convenient to their personsl lifestyles for a speedy sign – in for which they would be given a £200 daily oayment to spend as they wish regardless of the length of time actually spent in the “chamber”.

    A bit like the Lords now really .

  69. 69
    broderick crawford says:

    I wonder if the North Korean gulags allow their inmates 12 books Mitch . Perhaps they believe in feeding the
    brain .. coz they sure as hell don t feed the body — with reports they are starved and thus obliged to rummage for worms , snakes and the odd salamander as a Sunday treat .

  70. 70
    Justin Poofyboots says:

    Fifty shades of bullshit!

  71. 71
    Anonymous says:

    Didn`t Papillion have to shove books up his arse to get them past the screws?

  72. 72
    broderick crawford says:

    “the biggest problem I have had over prison libraries so far is whether they should be allowed to have Fifty Shades of (flailing) Grayling “

  73. 73
    Anonymous says:

    This is obviously to stop radical Islamist propaganda getting into prisons unchecked, but everyone’s afraid to say so.

  74. 74
    MaryWhitehouse says:

    He has been watching The Shawshank Redemption

  75. 75
    tigerowl says:

    Come on folks. This is the usual right of centre crap we come to expect from such examples of Toryman. Talk tough. It shows to the numpties who think prison should include treadmills and stocks that the Tories are on their side. ignorant leading the ignorant as ever.

  76. 76
    Jack Ketch says:

    Just a thought here. Heterosexual prisoners are denied the physical companionship of the opposite sex during the term of thei sentence, yet raving whilly whoofters and rug-munchers can all they want. In the interests of equality, should consideration be given to mixed prisons?

  77. 77
    Not in my name says:


  78. 78
    Not in my name says:

    Treadmills linked to generators so the Prison Service can get a feed in tariff of course.

  79. 79
    Justin Time - Senior Toady Stasi Intorrogator says:

    We have run this story given to us by Labour Central Office.
    Listen to me berate and rant on this issue this morning on iplayer and hear what level of competence you have to have to become a BBC interrogator.

  80. 80
    Just Asking says:

    Or their Karl Marx.

  81. 81

    “It seems the debate comes down to the fact that books are considered a privilege item.”

    This will bring prisons in line with schools.

  82. 82
    Big Momma says:

    Labour are crowing, and Harperson is harping, that Labour will defend the BBC TV Tax. She states that this bill has been watered down to a REVIEW ONLY to vote on, and much lateeeeeer (snooze) a solution can be found or not found.

  83. 83
    Malcolm Redfellow says:

    It isn’t just books. It’s knickers, bras and underpants, too.

    Not a recent issue, either:

  84. 84
    Scre the screws before they screw you says:

    Send your unwanted holiday paperbacks to The Library HMP Strangeways.

  85. 85
    Tom Catesby. says:

    Chap I know, spent two years in prison, he tells me he had good access to prison libraries on the whole and could order books on loan through the British Library lending service at no charge. sounds okay to me.

  86. 86
    Tom Catesby. says:

    That was the Count of Monte Cristo and it was bottles of sherry.

  87. 87
    Tom Catesby. says:

    ‘groid murderers’?

  88. 88
    Turnkey. says:

    It’s not a crap pay cheque.

  89. 89
    Tom Catesby. says:

    As anybody told Rose West?

  90. 90
    Tom Catesby. says:

    Then there will be the consequent on costs and the time spent in obtaining a warrant or court order to enter premises to repossess. Of course we could always make the BBC fight for market share and advertising like the rest.

  91. 91
    Tom Catesby. says:

    He’ll get a Koran or free.

  92. 92
    Tom Catesby. says:

    American prisons are bursting at the seams, no sign of repeat offender reduction due to perceived harsh sentencing in the good ole US of A.

  93. 93
  94. 94
    Jess The Dog says:

    He’s fucked this one up. Everyone has seen The Shawshank Redemption which has a major sub plot about books in prison. This might delight a few hangers-and-floggers but makes him look like a nasty weirdo to everyone else.

  95. 95
    Jess The Dog says:

    BTW, Grayling is getting quite a pasting on ConHome…

  96. 96
    Tel E. Caster says:

    I suspect that Kate feels more compassion for Adobolajo than she does for Lee Rigby’s family.
    Liberals are funny like that.

  97. 97
    Anonymous says:

    “League of Penal Reform”
    Good title for some new branch of the Cathartic Church?

    “banning books from being sent to prison inmates”
    bad. Using them to fuel prison boilers…good.

    “our rehabilitation agenda”
    is very similar to our educational agenda. We still teach what to think, rather than how to think. In short: Here is the answer. Never seek to view the working out.

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