Howard League keen to foster Archer links

Simon Ellery

The Howard League for Penal Reform has hailed its conference with Lord Archer last week a success, and says it would be happy to work with the disgraced peer again.

The event was overshadowed by the Government's announcement that it plans to strip peers with convictions of their titles, a measure apparently sparked by Archer's recent prison sentence for perjury.

Archer said in his speech that illiterate prisoners should not be released until they had learned to read and write - a policy which conflicts with the approach of the Howard League.

The League's director, Frances Crook, said that Archer was wrong to say the system should "punish people into education". But she added Archer had helped to further the debate and the League was keen to work with him again.

"He has raised the profile of the charity and penal reform," she said.

"I could say what he did and nobody would listen. He says it and it is all over the media." She added: "I think the big lesson we can draw from Lord Archer's circumstance is that more politicians should be sent to prison."

In his speech Archer attacked the system which sees working prisoners receive £12 per week while those in education earn £3. He said prisoners in education should be paid as much as those who "peel potatoes", adding that illiterate prisoners should be denied parole unless they learn to read and write.

However, Archer has ruled out a career in prison reform, and as yet has not made further bookings to speak for the Howard League.

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