Prisons for the next generation

With prisons under severe pressure from overcrowding, the government must take urgent steps to tackle the challenge of prisoner rehabilitation. This is the message at the heart of The Learning Prison, a new report that draws on the research of the RSA’s Prison Learning Network.

Based on a series of workshops and focus groups involving prisoners, ex-offenders, policymakers and other key stakeholders, the report calls for “a clear public narrative around the role of prisons that is realistic about risk, puts learning and rehabilitation at its heart and engages front-line practitioners”. It argues that the government must have the courage to treat the prison system as a core public service in need of modernisation, as well as to encourage wider community participation in the debate.

The government now recognises that effective offender learning schemes can drastically reduce the rate of reoffending. The report suggests that involving prisoners in the design of their own skills programme may help engage them in their education. Prisoners also need better access to technology-enhanced learning if they are to improve their employment prospects.

Malcolm Grant, chair of the RSA Prison Learning Network, said: “At an important political moment, The Learning Prison argues for considerable political courage, leadership and inspiration to complement the willingness of practitioners to innovate and to secure greater public support.”

Download The Learning Prison report.