I was over at the The Spectator in their Coffeehouse section; it is an English Tory lovefest over there so I like to pop in and fly the flag being Scottish.
David Blackburn fires up a piece on Asbos which I replied to a comment by John Lea, later on I get into a debate with him which ends up me talking about prison and education.
So, it isn’t surprising that the Liberal Democrats have called for action to increase the "disappointing" number of prisoners who take part in education programmes while behind bars.
I have a tendency to be ahead of the curve sometimes.
What good is education to a prisoner?
Does it have any value?
Like many questions the answer isn’t straight forward as it may seem.
Education is only of value if you can use it to change your circumstances.
Most prisoners are shut out of the job market, so education has little appeal inside other than to relieve boredom.
Does anyone want to aspire to be a well educated menial?
Figures show an average of 2,651 prisoners attended learning centres in 2009-10.
Kilmarnock Prison only 15% of inmates took classes.
Glasgow's Barlinnie Prison 17% took classes.
The Scottish Prison Service say prisons provide a wide range of educational opportunities but if the job market situation isn’t addressed then its wasted.
Lib Dem Party justice spokesman Robert Brown said:
"It is disappointing that prisoners are not taking up the opportunity to learn new skills or learn toward a qualification while behind bars. It confirms the long-held belief that prisons can be colleges of crime where prisoners often come out worse than they went in."
What would help prisoners, education surely but what else?
A change in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 is needed.
We have to give people coming out of prison a fresh start once they have served their sentence.
That requires a change in the law!
Lib Dems looked at a small part of the bigger picture and think that solves the problem.
This is not the way to break the cycle of crime; education alone is not enough.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University
Monday, August 2, 2010
Lib Dems call for more action on Scottish prison education, education without opportunity has no value for prisoners, law change required