Erwin James

Now an erudite and widely-admired writer, the early part of Erwin James's life was very different. Aged 7, Erwin lost his mother in a car crash and his father took to drink and domestic violence in his grief. Under that tragic backdrop, he began a criminal career which led to a total of 53 convictions culminating in the murder of two men in London in 1982. Erwin fled the country and joined the French Foreign Legion until he was tracked down by Scotland Yard two years later, going on to serve twenty years of a life sentence. Initially writing from prison, he chronicled that life in an acclaimed Guardian column followed by three books including 2016's 'Redeemable', as well as in his current role as editor-in-chief of prison publication 'Inside Time'.

Jason spoke to Erwin about his own story of redemption and views on prison reform, as well as the impact of COVID-19 restrictions which require prisoners to be locked in their cells for 23 hours a day - something Erwin himself experienced early on in his stay at Wandsworth Prison.

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