Justice secretary seeks to improve education in prisons

Michael Gove has turned his attention to improving the education within prisons, which can help to provide prisoners with alternatives to re-offending when they are released back into society.

Gove has suggested an “earned release” style system for those who work to further their education while in prison.

However, this somewhat noble suggestion has been met by prison officers saying that they have heard this kind of suggestion before, and nothing has changed.

Further, Labour have said they have long wanted better education services in prisons, but that the general state of the detention centres also need seeing to and improving.

However, the education levels in prisoners is striking. The BBC reported figures that say in 2012:

  • 53 per cent of the prisons’ population have any qualifications, compared to 85 per cent of the working age population
  • 21 per cent of inmates need help with reading and writing, and also with numbers
  • 41 per cent inmates need help with education and their work related skills

Being the former Secretary of Education, this type of system should be in Gove’s element, and he may be the man to see it brought to life.

He said, speaking at the Prisoner Learning Alliance, that there needs to be an end to the “idleness and futility” of prison life.

He believes that education is key to the rehabilitation of prisoners.

We may see that a pilot scheme evolves at some point and is trialled in prisons, with a “earned release” style approach.

Of course, it will be hard to nurse a college atmosphere while issues like “persistent overcrowding and serious assaults on staff rising”, which, according to the shadow justice secretary, still need to be addressed within the system.