Rachel reports on the Koestler awards for Inside Time.
Inside Time is the only national newspaper for prisoners. It was founded in 1991 by Eric McGraw, then director of the charity The New Bridge. Following the riots at Strangeways Prison in Manchester in 2000, and Lord Justice Woolf’s report, McGraw felt that prisons would be much improved by a better communication system to keep their inmates in touch with events that affected them. I was involved from the beginning.
Originally, we only published quarterly but for the last five years we’ve come out monthly with a regular 54-64 pages. Recently we have included several supplements, including educational information, short stories and poetry by offenders. We have also published four volumes of collected poetry called Inside Poetry - Voices from Prison.The paper has always been free to all prisons and special hospitals, usually distributed through the libraries and it is entirely independent of any government body.
The contents include up to nine pages of prisoners’ letters, Newsround pages with both world and prison news, books reviews, half a dozen pages of comment, often written by prisoners, a legal question and answer page and contributions from the Prison and Probation Ombudsman, amongst other specialist writers. It also has several pages of quizzes and competitions.
I write a column every month reporting on prison events and initiatives as well and throwing in some of the events of my own life – such as, in 2007, I visited Robben Island, South Africa, where President Mandela was held for twenty seven years. In December 2008 I described a visit I made to the Brooklyn federal Detention Centre. In 2011 and 2012 I visited HMP Brixton, HMP Dartmoor , HMP Garth and HMP Highdown among other prisons. I reported on the Forgiveness Project, on Synergy drama productions and Family Man programmes again among others. Anyone who is interested in the paper can visit it at insidetime.org