My dad is in maximum-security prison after an unreliable career in armed robbery. He already served ten-years and was finally promoted to an open prison - you know the ones - the kind we reserve for our white-collar criminals like celebrity politicians Jeffrey Archer and Jonathan Aitken. Annoyingly my dad didn't write a best seller in the last few months of his stretch...
The recent attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, and the London and Madrid bombings ten years ago, were an attack on our core values: respect for life, freedom and tolerance. We must stand up to protect these fundamental principles and values.
Earlier this year the Government unveiled plans for one of the most ill-thought through policies of this Parliament. It's called the Secure College - a new Titan prison for young offenders. It sounds good in theory. It's supposed to be a new institution that will 'transform youth custody' by prioritising learning. In reality it's a flawed, expensive and potentially dangerous idea.
We all took the view that public sympathy is with the women who are in effect sentenced to the equivalent of a death penalty whilst their children suffer the consequences. When they ask me - where were you Mummy when all these women were dying in prison, I will be proud to say I was at the HLE Debate and we didn't just talk about change we made it happen.
It should be a source of pride, not rage, that we, as a nation, hold ourselves to the highest standards when it comes to respecting the inherent value of the human. The idea of human rights embodies the principal that people are more important than ideologies. If he hopes history to remember him with any fondness, David Cameron would do well to remember that maxim.
As the former attorney general, Dominic Grieve, has said, this would be an utterly puerile way for the United Kingdom to conduct itself on the international stage... David Cameron and his fellow Tories often like to pay homage to Winston Churchill and the war-time generation, yet in their deeds they seem determined to take an axe to the treaties, the courts and institutions that were their legacy. Any party that believes that trading in not just our fundamental rights but our place in the post-1945 international order just to hoover up a few votes off Ukip in the Clacton by-election is not fit for office.
At a fundamental level, human rights are an assertion of protection from the government and a claim for the protection of the government. Power has the potential for good and ill, which is why power must be regulated and laden with responsibility.
Rocketing prison numbers, a shocking surge in assaults and deaths by suicide in custody, fewer staff, less constructive activity and unacceptably high reconviction rates are the flashing warning lights that Ministers must heed.
There's always so much focus on how much prisons cost the tax payer, whether inmates should have access to TV and reading material and prison rehabilitation programs.
Chris Grayling doesn't know what's going on. Some might argue that this is true generally, but I'm talking about the "book ban". He didn't mean for it to happen, he didn't intend to deprive prisoners, and he doesn't have a good answer to the criticism that's being levelled at him. And the fuss is part of a wider and even more concerning issue.
The Howard League have been very active, not least through the #booksforprisoners twitter activity, which is being built on this week by English Pen, who are asking for people to tweet 'the book you would send to a prisoner, and why'.
New laws introduced this weekend will outlaw the frankly disgraceful behaviour we've seen from some of the dubious characters who have gathered in this industry. We're ending the situation where any old thug can turn up and work as a bailiff. From now on everyone working in the industry will have to be properly trained and certificated before they get started - and if they break our tough new rules they will have that certification taken away. All of this will clean up the industry and protect people from aggression and exploitation.
There can be no debate on the value of books in general and cutbacks in prisons across the UK have meant that library stock is much diminished and access time has significantly declined. Given that not all prisoners can earn money, and certainly not enough to buy books, the books and gifts sent from loved ones are a lifeline. To stop them is just cruel.
It is shaming to have so many people locked up in our prisons, not for what they have done but for what they might do in the future. This is not to mention the costs to the public purse of holding thousands of people in prison beyond their tariff expiry date.
Under pressure of budget cuts and economies of scale, prisons are getting fewer and larger, with a drive to close small community and open prisons, build larger jails and add additional capacity to existing establishments. Since 2010 there have been 13 prison closures and a further six still to come.
Chris Grayling's speech on Monday at Conservative Party conference reads as if the last 40 months didn't even happen. All his talk of tougher sentencing for knife crime and clamping down on use of cautions shamelessly ignores his out of touch Government's record since the last election and their disgraceful lack of support for innocent victims of crime.