From education to employment

Report Denounces Casual Approach of Government

In September 2005, a report published by the Forum of Prisoner Education (FPE) criticised the Government’s casual approach to putting into action urgent reforms that would improve the current state of prisoner education.

A registered charity, the FPE aims to “advance the quality, availability and consistency of education and training within the criminal justice system”. Last year, September 2004, the All Party Parliamentary Group for Further Education and Lifelong Learning Inquiry released a report in which a number of issues were highlighted as being “a cause of concern” within the prisons of the nation.

Some aspects brought to attention that affected the situation of prison education were, curriculum, assessment and resettlement. In lieu of these key findings, thirty recommendations were made in an attempt to prioritise that “learning and skills development be at the heart of prison regime”, in order to ensure that prisoners should be given the resources to lead crime-free lives on their release back into society.

One Year Later”¦

A full year on, in spite of this emphasis on a pressing need for change, over 50% of recommendations are yet to be put into action. The briefing paper “Inside Track- One Year On”, by the FPE, informs the reader that out of thirty recommendations a mere six were met, nine were partially met and an astonishing fifteen were not met at all!

Amongst the recommendations that were realized were: “urgent attention should be paid to reviewing and rationalising education and training funding anomalies between prisons”; “the principles of Project REX, bringing together responsibility for basic skills, academic, and vocational learning and training, should be retained”; and “contracting on a prison by prison basis should be abandoned and instead undertaken regionally”.

Out of the thirty recommendations made by the All Party Group, the fifteen that were not met in my personal opinion were the most important and those that would bring about the maximum amount of change, such as: “the size of the prison population be capped relative to capacity”; “education needs should be highlighted in every prisoners” sentence plan”; “additional investment in electronic transfer of records should be made an urgent priority”; and “work related learning and training at least equal to that available to all in prison”.

Re ““ Offending

Based on not only external, but in addition the Forum of Prisoners Education research- that learning holds the key to the prevention of re-offending and the re-habitation of ex-inmates back into the social order, a lack of education resources within the prison institute can be seen as an influencing factor in the re-offending of criminals and therefore the increase of prison population.

This would quite naturally result in a lack of funding for educational resources and leading to the beginning of this particular vicious cycle all over again. Therefore, the delay in incorporating these recommendations into prison education by the government may be seen as a reason in the increased the risk of ex-prisoners re-offending.

Tina Sharma

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