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.
Research shows that young adults have the largest potential to change their lives and "grow out of crime", but inappropriate interventions can halt this desistance process. In addition, this group are likely to require more one-to-one support in the adult estate where they may be more vulnerable due to their age and maturity to prevent violence or self-harm.
It is a little known fact that during his 27 years of imprisonment Nelson Mandela studied a law degree as a distance learning student with the University of London. Although none, as far as I am aware, of the many prisoner distance learners we funded have become a president; thousands have used the opportunity of education in prison to change for the better.
The problem of drugs in society will not be solved by allowing drugs in prison, but it might make the time go more quickly for the inmates and it might make the job easier for the guards. And if it is true that drugs are as easily available inside as a latte is on the outside, then that rather makes the "War On Drugs" even more unlikely ever to be won...
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.