Almost two years on from the original ban, restrictions that prohibited prisoners from receiving parcels containing books have finally been removed.
Michael Gove has overturned the ban on prisoners being sent books, originally put in place by the previous Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling.
When the original ban came into place in November 2013 there was a general consensus that it could only be detrimental to the rehabilitation of prisoners. Following this, it looked a matter of time until the ban was revoked when it was ruled in December 2014 that the ban was unlawful, with Mr Justice Collins stating that he could see 'no good reason' for prisoners to be denied access to books.
Despite that ruling, it took a long time for a final decision to be made, meaning that by the time it had finally been revoked it was nearly two years where prisoners, without 'exceptional circumstances', were unable to receive books from friends and family.
Prisoners were allowed to borrow books from the prison library, but these were often criticised as understocked and hard to access, with staff members not always readily available to supervise prisoners.
With education in prisons becoming recognised as a crucial way to lower reoffending rates, access to a wide range of high quality materials is essential. As prisoners are not able to access a lot of the technology that we take for granted, such as mobiles and the internet, then books become an absolutely essential way for people to not only be educated, but to stimulate the mind, especially with some prisoners isolated for large parts of the day.
Michael Gove announced that friends, relatives and charities will now all be able to send parcels containing books to inmates, with no restriction on the amount of books a prisoner may have in their cell. This can only help inmates to develop their education further, providing new avenues of interest and opportunities for when they are released.