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Education key to success of prisoners rehabilitation

A closeup of the lock of a brick jail cell with iron bars and a key in the locking mechanism with the door open

Member of Bedford Row family project, Larry de Cléir has emphasised the importance of education within Irish prisons.

The message which Mr de Cléir aims to spread is that everyone deserves a second chance and education is the means to achieve that.

Mr de Cléir said, “Education brings people into the fold and back into normality.”

“Many prisoners are here trying to rebuild their lives. They have made a mistake, they’re suffering, their families are suffering, but there is always hope,” he continued.

Mr de Cléir works with a Bedford Row family project, a charity which aims to help prisoners and their families affected by imprisonment.

“We believe in a life outside of imprisonment. Every encouragement should be made to help them rebuild their lives,” Mr de Cléir said.

Addressing the issues connected with why people become imprisoned, Mr de Cléir said, “Many of the problems associated with imprisonment, such as addiction or anger, stem from events that happen in childhood.”

Limerick prison offers full and part-time programs to its prisoners. Literacy and numeracy programs provide many learners with the basic skills they need to begin their learning journeys.

Mr de Cléir said, ”Many of our learners achieve very high standards in FETAC and State Examinations.”

A wide range of subjects are taught in the Education Unit in Limerick Prison, including classes in health education, home economics, english, creative writing, literacy and numeracy parenting and childcare, woodwork, art/crafts/ceramics, music, physical education, yoga, aerobics, sociology C.S.P.E. and geography.

Ciarán McAuley, who works with the Irish Prison service in the communications and information unit, spoke about some of the education services on offer.

“The aim of the Education Service is to deliver a high quality, broad, flexible program of education that helps prisoners cope with their sentence, achieve personal development, prepare for life after release and establish an appetite and capacity for lifelong learning,” said Mr McAuley.

His comment comes after Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, launched a new prison service education plan in June.  The Irish Prison Service Strategic Plan 2016 – 2018 aims to build on the considerable progress made in recent years.

During their sentence, the program’s offer motivation and encouragement for the prisoners to succeed on release from custody.

Mr McCauley said, “On committal, all prisoners are interviewed by the Governor and are informed of the services available in the prison. At this point prisoners may be referred to services or they can self refer at a later date.”

“The provision of services to prisoners is aimed at reducing the likelihood of the particular offender re-offending on release,” he added.

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