Prison cell-ebration

The image above is a screenshot of the slide I used during my TEDx talk at The Open University in November last year.

Who in their right mind could turn around and say that it looks like an environment conducive to rehabilitation?

That’s because it isn’t, nor has it ever been or ever will be.


Because it’s a prison.

Prison is where you go to be punished.

That was the reason for its existence and will always be the reason.

Prison management and prison staff, with a duty of care to their residents, are there to ensure the protection of the public and prevention of further criminal acts. Those above them are there to provide the policies, resources and cash for them to do so.

Civilian staff, those who work in the privatised classrooms, workshops and other contracted services facilitated in our prisons, are there to provide, hopefully, purposeful activities along with skills, knowledge and experience of a particular subject/trade.

Healthcare, well, they are there to provide healthcare.

So, along with being an environment that holds individuals sent there by the courts to be punished, or held before being punished. We also want the environment to rehabilitate individuals in order to reduce reoffending. I’d like you to consider the term to reduce reoffending.

Surely, we should first look at reducing offending? A metaphorical diet if you will. It is impossible to reduce the size of something being not only constantly fed but fed a diet that consists of a lot of fresh meat. And, as with any diet, there are many ways one can reduce size. But! That’s another argument.

Everyone in prison has their role to play, however, there is one act that only the prisoner can perform. The act of reform.

The other actors within this specific act are there to provide the ability for the prisoner to be able to do so. To influence and motivate but they cannot rehabilitate the individual.

The individual prisoner is the only one that knows exactly what they need in order to reform.

What they might not know is how to.

I don’t know who the most important is when it comes to the actor or the director but what I do know is that one needs the other.

People reform in prison. Prison does not reform people.


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