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You can’t ignore Jonathan: he won’t let you!
Jonathan Robinson (pictured above) is a Prison Reformer and author of two books focusing on prison reform and, in particular, prison literacy.
GoDoSeeBuy! Spoke to him.
His first book IN IT, published in 2013, is a prison diary. It’s an account of a 15-month custodial sentence for theft from his employer. Before this, Jonathan had a successful career as a helicopter pilot, until – as he freely admits – he made a huge mistake.
Jonathan’s book has had rave reviews. Author Wendy Perriam penned: “IN IT should be hailed as worthy of Dickens himself in its cry for social reform.” Jonathan Aitken said it was “one of the best prison books I have ever read.” Joanna Trollope referred to “a significant writing gift.”
Robinson’s diary was launched around the time that Justice Minister Chris Grayling took office: soon after, a copy of IN IT was requested. Dialogue and then meetings took place. Jonathan recounts, “In my naivety, I thought he’d say, that’s great, Jonathan, we’ll implement all your recommendations, but he didn’t. Mr Grayling kept saying everything was hunky dory when actually nothing was working! They should have been saying: this is nuts! We’ll fix this!”
This stance induced Jonathan to write a follow-up book, ON IT, which too was praised: “Robinson has written his second book – in a completely different style to his first – which with an alarmingly shocking gait reveals the ‘looking the other way’ by those with power over our prison system… Ignore Robinson at your peril. He is clearly not going away,” wrote The Guardian’s Eric Allison.
So now Grayling’s gone, what of Michael Gove, the new Justice Minister? Fresh material for the third book?
Jonathan gets quite upbeat when talking about his more recent encounters with politicians on this matter. “Maybe we’re now turning another corner,” he says.
“I support what Mr Gove has said to date, but I feel one of the first things he needs to do, once he’s got his feet under the table, is to invite journalists into prisons to see the good, bad and the ugly. I’m not talking about the inmates; I’m talking about the practices. The fact that there appears to be no sharing of good practice is insane. Absolutely nuts.” Jonathan exclaims. “Why are we not allowing prisoners to share other skills, as they can through The Shannon Trust Reading Scheme (which we featured here last week) through peer to peer learning? They should be using their time positively. Look at the tiny re-offending rates of The Clink Charity (featured last week in our Go section) and Bad Boys Bakery. These are two tiny operations. Why have we not got projects like this in every prison?”
For more information on Jonathan, his campaign and links to buy his books, visit: JonathanRobinson.org
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