- Physical and Mental Health and Wellbeing
- Reducing Substance Abuse
- Reducing Recidivism
- Employment and Rehabilitation
- Personal Development and Self-expression
Firstly, we believe that education will improve the wellbeing of the prisoner during their time incarcerated. Education carries enormous potential in simply providing a positive outlet for prisoners’ time. This is particularly important when we consider the long, monotonous hours prisoners are subject to while incarcerated, potentially reducing the use of illicit substances, amongst other self-destructive behaviours, to ‘pass the time.’ The case of Tracy Brannigan’s death in custody is one example of where education, had it been available, may have altered the unfortunate outcome. Justice Action firmly believes that mere access to education and a computer would have allowed her to use her time in prison effectively, which had often been spent locked down in her cell for hours on end. To ensure that a tragedy like this does not happen again, we have proposed an action plan that should be considered by all stakeholders.
Not only will education in prison improve the wellbeing of offenders during their time incarcerated, but it will also help the offender shape their own identity. In doing so, this will allow them to deviate from their old lifestyle and become a functional member of society. As a result, an array of opportunities in areas of employment, ranging from the trades to the humanities, will open up for them to pursue once released. The US has shown this to be the case, as prisoners who participated in correctional educational programs were 43 percent less likely to reoffend.
“All prisoners shall have the right to take part in cultural activities and education aimed at the full development of the human personality” (Article 6 of the United Nations Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners). It is often misconceived that education only refers to intellectual and academic progression. However as insulated through the aforementioned principle, education in fact includes infinite and invaluable ways of enriching individuals spiritually, culturally, socially, economically and personally. It should involve access to a variety of structured programs and unstructured learning hubs from which an individual can choose. The availability of choice provides individuals with the freedom of self-directed learning so that they can pursue personal interest for their own betterment and enrichment. It is through education that prisoners and forensic patients can increase the likelihood of successful and relatively easy reintegration into society upon their release as the process of learning provides individuals with more avenues for employment and thus financial independence.