Education and Ex-inmates

Year: 2011

Author: J-F, Dr., Gillies, Robyn, Carroll, Annemarie

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Introduction: Prison education in principle is acknowledged to serve diverse needs of inmates. It is generally argued that education has varied life course benefits especially in the case of inmates and more specifically upon their release. Education in prisons is not a new or a novel issue, but it appears that its relevance and purpose has been distorted in its inability to fully explain its relationship with offending or to that matter in how it is able to assist ex-inmates to live crime-free. Several studies have attempted to measure recidivism in terms of inmates participation in and/or completion of education programs, without establishing any relationship between education, offending behaviour, or to that matter crime-free living. In other words, very few studies have measured or quantified the 'role' of education in the lives of inmates and more so, whether it is related to ex-inmates living crime-free. Importantly, very little is known about how precisely education comes to directly and/or indirectly assist ex-inmates in the community. Current Research: A study was undertaken at the University of Queensland to explore various factors that were supporting ex-inmates to live crime-free and one such factor was education. Aim: In particular the focus of the study was to investigate the role of education within the crimonogenic literature in its relevance and relationship to crime-free living. Participants in the study were male ex-inmates (n=20) living crime-free in Queensland. The role of education (i.e. formal schooling) was measured in three stages: pre-incarceration, during incarceration and post-incarceration. Method: Phenomenology was used as methodology and information was collected through face-to-face interviews using Violence Risk Appraisal Guide. Comprehensive education related information in terms of school experiences, learning trajectories and educational history/background was collected for each of the participant. Findings: Education prior to incarceration showed that most ex-inmates have low levels of education with deficits and gaps in knowledge, had negative school experiences and were either regularly suspended or expelled from school. Education during incarceration revealed that some inmates engaged in ad hoc prison programs, with the premise that learning is likely to lead to employment upon their release. Education during post-prison revealed several gaps in ex-inmates learning pathways. In some cases education appeared to have provided a positive pathway and if it was consistently pursued as a lifelong pathway, it was a salient factor in assisting ex-inmates to live productively. However, education independently and directly does not seem to assist ex-inmates to live crime-free or sustain a crime-free life. Prison Education for inmates should be understood withrough scholarships and stipends.