As a result of work we have been doing, the Scottish Prison Service has decided to amend the terms of their policy in relation to prisoners receiving books from family and friends. The previous policy was as follows:-
On 25 May 2015 the new Scottish Prison Service policy will come into force. This new policy amends the previous policy to provide Governors with a discretion to permit a prisoner’s family and friends to send or hand books in directly to the establishment for the personal use of a named prisoner where there are exceptional circumstances agreed by the Governor.
The policy provides a definition of exceptional circumstances. It will be interesting to see in practice what Governors consider as exceptional.
I have many concerns about the policy. One of the obvious concerns is that it does not expressly recognise the financial pressures on prisoners, their families and friends. The approved suppliers can be more expensive than a charity shop or local supermarket. It does not take into account the issue of books already owned by the prisoner or their family and friends. It will be interesting to see if the Governors will interpret the policy in a way that takes into account the financial pressures on the families of prisoners who wish to provide reading materials to their loved ones.
The purpose of this blog is not to criticise the terms of the policy. That can and will be left to another forum. However I do wish friends and families of prisoners to be aware that the policy has been changed in such a way that they might be able to hand in books to their loved ones.