ICPA promotes that all prison systems should focus on humane incarceration that offers prisoners opportunities for learning. Education activities should support the development of social, emotional, civic and economic capabilities. Prisoner engagement in education supports prisoner well-being and promotes dynamic security, leading to a reduction in reoffending. Education should be available irrespective of age and legal status of the prisoner. Prison administrations and other organisations involved with prisoner management should work collaboratively towards these aims:
- An assessment should be conducted to determine the prisoner’s employment history, educational experience and aspirations. Depending on the assessed educational needs a personalised plan for learning and development should be developed.
- Prisoner education should not be deficits-based, instead leveraging those strengths identified in any initial assessment.
- Prisoners should have the opportunity to progress through primary and secondary education and if appropriate, into post-secondary and higher education.
- Prisoners should be encouraged and should be able to engage with education voluntarily. Guidance should be available to inform their decisions on appropriate subjects and progression. Peer mentoring is to be encouraged.
- Wherever possible, the scope and quality of education available to prisoners should mirror the scope and quality of that outside of custody.
- Transition plans and activities should occur throughout a prisoner’s sentence. Referrals to educational institutions for continuation of study should be available when
prisoners are nearing the end of their incarceration or before if conditions allow day release. If practical, probation and parole services should be involved in this transition.
- To the extent possible, program results and their impact should be tracked and reported based upon the level and type of education and amount of programming provided.
- Prisoners should not be penalised for engaging in education and where feasible, remuneration rates should be equivalent to participation in industries or other paid
- Education should be culturally appropriate and, as far as possible, delivered in the first language of the prisoner. Culturally relevant content should be included in curricula.
- Both formal and informal learning opportunities should be available. Informal learning enables prisoners to spend spare time productively.
- Education should be gender appropriate, taking into account the opportunities and constraints of a prisoner’s particular situation.
- Education staff should be appropriately trained and have ongoing professional development to keep abreast of emerging research and current best practice.
- Post release education support (including information, advice and guidance for continued study) should be available for released prisoners as much as that is practical to improve integration into society and reduce re-offending.
This founding statement of ICPA was approved by the ICPA Board on 7 March 2018 and ratified by the members of the Corporation on the Annual General Meeting Montreal 23 October 2018.
Image: Singapore Prison Service