Erwin James is a Guardian columnist and freelance writer. He is the author of two collections of essays: A Life Inside: A Prisoner’s Notebook and The Home Stretch: From Prison to Parole. He is a trustee of the Prison Reform Trust and a patron of the charities Create, Blue Sky, the Writers in Prison Foundation, The Reader Organisation, Human Writes and the Prison Phoenix Trust. As a speaker and commentator he is one of the most authoritative voices on prison issues in the UK, having given keynote addresses to the Royal Society in Edinburgh, the Prisons and Probation Union at the Danish parliament in Copenhagen and the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts and an Honorary Master of the Open University. He lives in Wales.