Synthesis of my blogs on prisoners and Education

The Centre for Social Justice has identified five pathways to Poverty.   These are family breakdown, educational failure, unemployment and dependency, addiction and serious debt. These pathways are incorporated, and many of those who are trapped in poverty have experienced more than one of these problems.

When you are faced with this cycle what are the choices you face?  There is not much of an alternative for young people who come from a background of poverty. The attraction of being in a gang and the feeling of being part of something has its attraction.  This site states that Being unable to attain social and economic opportunities, and the decline of institutions and the incapacity to manage and communicate effectively with young people, this may lead them to find security in a gang.  Most gangs are intra-racial and members share mutual social, family and economic backgrounds. 

Why do individuals join?

 Individuals join a gang because they feel that they belong to a certain area, and these areas are usually disorganized urban areas, violence is often experienced around them. Several gang members are involved in legitimate social activities, nevertheless for some being in a gang can lead to crime and lead them away from conventional society.

The Home Office cannot provide figures for the number of gangs or for the level of gang related crime in Britain. The reason being data is difficult to obtain due to the fact that the Home Office is unable to provide a definition of what a gang is.

According to Vacca, J, S, (2004), since the 1990’s literature has established that prisoners, who have attended an educational programme in prison, are less likely to return to prison subsequent to their release.  Studies have indicated that prisoners are less likely to re-offend when inmates have received appropriate education.  Also the ‘right kind’ of educational programme leads to less violence by prisoners and this leads to a calmer prison environment.  Effective Educational programs are those who assist prisoners with their social skills, artistic development and techniques and strategies that help them to deal with their emotions.$FILE/prisons+article+Vacca+2004.pdf.

So what is on offer in Prison?  And does it work?

The Prisoners Educational Trust has provided a service since 1989, which access broader learning prospects for prisoners.  This service gives the prisoners the opportunity to improve their chances of a quality of life once they have been released from prison. This service is offered through distance learning courses, in courses and levels that they are not available in prison. The Trust has supports over 2,000 prisoners each year.  They do this through funding, and are funded by over fifty different foundations, and are recipients’ of individual donations from the Department of Business and Innovation skills. The Policy of the Prisoners Educational Trust is to raise awareness of the importance of education for prisoners.  Within rehabilitation with access to academic, vocational, creative, and informal learning within the prison system.

Unfortunately offenders with a learning disability are not routinely identified and they are not offered the support that they require within the prison system. The Prisoners Reform Trust is a nationwide programme; in the United Kingdom it is called ‘No One Knows’. The purpose of the trust is to investigate and publicize the experiences of Individuals with a learning disability that enter the criminal justice system.

My Thoughts

My thoughts on this are that the Prisoners Trust is beneficial not only to the Prisoners but to society as a whole. Unfortunately they are only able to provide this service through funding, and have provided this service since 1989.  If they were unable to continue to provide this service there would be a major shortfall in the prison Educational  service, as prisoners would not be able to attain certain recognized qualifications.  The Criminal Justice System has indentified the five pathways to poverty; these are family breakdown, educational failure, unemployment and dependency, addiction and serious debt.   With this in mind, how do individuals find a ‘way’ out?  I came across this link  I so moved by one of the prisoners who said that ‘Education leads to Liberation’. I do believe in Education for everyone, and everyone should have access to an Education. Regardless of the consequences of being in prison.  I chose this population as they are in a minority,  and in life not everything is Black and White.  Despite your background everyone should be ‘seen’ as an individual not just the population that you come from.  There should be a better way of screening prisoners who may have a learning disability within the prison system. So that they have an equal right to an Education and support. If Individuals lack the motivational, or are  unbale to internalize their goals and aspirations, because they have not received guidance or self belief in their own abilities.  How can they move on in their lives?  The cause of crime is linked with the inequality of Education and the socio-economic background that you may come from.  This does have a psychological affect not only on the prisoner, their families and society.





9 thoughts on “Synthesis of my blogs on prisoners and Education

  1. From reading your blogs over the past few weeks, I too am in full support of the prison system allowing and implementing an education programme. I think it’s benefits speak for themselves but I think attention must be paid on who should be targeted first in order to make it the most effective. Adams et al (1994) suggested that programmes should first be offered to the most educationally disadvantaged prisoners. This links well with your point that if education would reduce negative behaviour, re-offending etc then if those at the most disadvantaged aren’t helped, then this programme is limited in it’s success as there will be negative influences still around and encouraging others to be involved. Further to this, black males for example were found to have the lowest self-esteem once leaving prison, and it what they could achieve (Case & Fassenfest, 2004). It’s these points that must be focussed on. Rather than merely just hoping people will come and use the programme, efforts must be made to encourage individual’s to come, particularly those at the most risk.

    • Thank you for your comments, I am really pleased that you ‘see’ the benefit of education within the prison system. The most disatvantaged individuals in the prison system, are Woman who have an intellectual disability, as they are in a sub group. Women in prison are at a disatvange because they are more likely to be less educated, than their male counterparts. Also they will have higher depression than there male counterparts, as they may have suffered from domestic, sexual , emotional abuse. What I did not research was anxiety, which I think the female prisoners would have suffered more from, as they may be parted from children and family. Thank you again for your comments I learn so much more from your feedback, and I see it as a positive as you are my peers and evaluate my work fairly. 🙂

  2. Hi Sandra, Over the past few weeks I have enjoyed reading your blogs and commenting on your perspective of the prison system which I would not have thought to have looked at in the past. Bayliss (2003) states that with the rise in population more and more prisons are being built to keep up with the demand of offenders and re-offenders within the UK. In order to Intervine this and save money, helping commuties and inmates, a relationship is needed between ex-offenders, re-employment and less re-offending. If this relationship is established, the inmates, prison staff and policy makers should implement the education to more than just basic skills classes, but linked in with all prison activities prompting learning.

    Kirk et al (2001) also found evidence that 50% of inmates tested posotive for dyslexia. This therefore shows how important Bayliss’s statemetnt is and the importance of a good education in prison in order to improve these inmate’s skills.
    Kirk, J., & Reid, G. (2001). An examination of the relationship between dyslexia and offending in young people and the implications for the training system. Dyslexia, 7(2), 77-84.
    Bayliss, P. (2003). Learning behind bars: time to liberate prison education. Studies in the Education of Adults, 35(2), 157-172.

  3. Sandra,

    I have only read a few of your blogs over the last semester, but have really enjoyed them and this synthesis blog really pulls them altogether and explains it all so clearly.
    It is a very interesting topic and I would definitely agree with your sentiments that fair, unbiased education benefits not only the offender, but also society as a whole. Machin, Marie & Vujić (2011) wrote an article that presents evidence showing that since the compulsory school leaving age was raised in England and Wales, there have been significantly less property crimes, showing a negative correlation between education and crime BEFORE the potential offenders even reach that stage. I think this is important to note, as you have discussed, because surely prevention is better than a cure. It is also important because, as you also mentioned, education provided within the prisons is privately funded through a trust. Limiting ‘petty crimes’, (usually due to boredom) has already started and this is great news, through such a simple way.

    Machin, S., Marie, O., & Vujić, S. (2011). The Crime Reducing Effect of Education*. The Economic Journal, 121(552), 463-484.

  4. I really enjoyed your different perspective on education coming from an angle that I would not have thought of. It just reminds you how many different view there are to education and how it can affect so many people in different stages at their lives. Great blog. It appears that in particular young inmates appreciate the change to enroll in education during their time in prison, but their choices to engage with education seems to be influenced by prior knowledge as well (Manger et al, 2006). Education in prison seems to be some aspect that needs more attention since according to some studies on 25 % of inmates are involved in it (Levy, 2004). Apparently, there seem to be struggles occurring with allowing prisoners time to use multimedia, such as the internet and computer games, during time of education, as reported by a findings from Braggins and Talbot (2006). However, education in prison is important as it may help inmates to develop social capacity through formal and informal learning ((Falk and Harrison, 1998; Kilpatrick, Bell and Falk, 1999), therefore education has to be provided which will hopefully impact future choices beyond the inmates time in prison.

    Braggins and Talbot (2006).
    Falk, I. and Harrison, L. (1998) ‘Community learning and social capital: “Just having a little chat” ’, Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 50 (4), 609–27.
    Manger et al., 2006.
    Levy, M. (2004) ‘No bars on learning’, Training Journal, September , 18–21.
    Kilpatrick, S., Bell, R. and Falk, I. (1999) ‘The role of group learning in building social capital’, Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 51 (1), 129–44.

  5. Hi Sandra, I have followed your weekly blogs over the course of this module and have commented regularly on your posts. As I have previously mentioned a number of times I particularly enjoy reading your blogs every week because you manage to bring such an informal element to your writing without being completely inappropriate. Although your blogs are fun you raise serious and important issues that spark deep thoughts and debates in my mind.
    You have based your blogs on education in prison cells. As you have stated yourself many people are against this because they feel that it is not the tax payer’s duty to provide any beneficial opportunities to people who have been placed in jail because they have broken the law for some reason or the other. On one hand I can completely understand where these people are coming from. Why should we as the general public fund prison inmates with teachers and educational equipment when they should be punished for their crimes?
    However after reading your blogs every week I have started to think differently about this situation. You have provided evidence and discussions each week in order to justify why education should be provided to criminals and you have completely transformed my opinion. You have made me consider the benefits that are associated with educating inmates not only to themselves but also to us as the general public. As you have previously suggested education in prisons may motivate the criminals not to commit other crimes once they are released and instead will build on the education they have experienced by looking for work, enrolling into further education or participating in some voluntarily work and therefore contributing to society.
    Due to the points and issues you have raised in your weekly blogs I have learned so much about prison cells and the benefit of education on adolescent people and you have opened my eyes to the influence that education can have on people and their motivation of achievement in life regardless of their past.

    • Thank you for your kind comments, I have really enjoyed doing the Blogs. YES I agree the influence that EDUCATION has on individuals is amazing, I belive that its the indivdual that matters and NOT what their past is like or where they come from. Being given the chance to have an education and engageing in programmes that is of interest, makes the learnng more enjoyable. And the individuals not only in prison gain more than just qualifications, they also gain self-esteem in theit own abilities. Again thank you for your comments and input. 🙂

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