Erwin James is editor-in-chief of Inside Time, the UK’s only newspaper for prisoners. Convicted in 1982 for two murders and sentenced to life, he went on the run to the French Foreign Legion for two years before handing himself in. In his two decades behind bars, he studied English and discovered a love of writing. This led to ‘A Life Inside’, the first ever national newspaper column written by a serving prisoner, which appeared in the Guardian until his release in 2004. A vocal campaigner for penal reform, he took the reins as editor of Inside Time in 2015. With a circulation of 60,000, he receives 500 letters a week from inmates across the UK. In this in-depth interview, he describes his “relief” at the sentence which allowed him to leave behind a life of crime, talks about how he “owes it to his victims” to do the best he can to prevent young offenders from making the same mistakes – and reveals the truth about life inside some of the UK’s most notorious prisons.