What did you learn?

Prison can be and is traumatic for some, for others it can also be retraumatising. You can say the same for being released from prison. However, those are negatives of prison that most of us are aware of. I would also assume most are also aware that prison can be, and is to some, criminogenic.

The Oxford dictionary defines criminogenic as: (of a system, situation, or place) causing or likely to cause criminal behaviour. Prison could be viewed as a university of crime. Not sure why people would want to learn from those who have clearly been caught and therefore, the advice may be questionable, but having said that, there are some very smart criminals in prison and just because they were serving a sentence for a specific crime doesn’t mean they’re not good at what they do. Getting away with shit ain’t as easy as some people think. (Not unless you’re the government). If so, our prisons wouldn’t be overcrowded with another 20,000 new spaces on the horizon. So, the more ways you can learn the better.

Which brings me onto my next point, as it clearly shows, as well as the negative aspects of prison life, prison is an education on its own and is also a part of prison daily life. I don’t mean the criminogenic or academic side, but the other things you learn through a prison sentence, such as about yourself and about others. I’m trying to recall if towards an end to a sentence, that 12-week point when everything starts to kick in and your release becomes the focus of those around you, in being asked, what have I learnt?

I’ve showed my certificates and achievements. I’ve shared my hopes and aspirations. I’ve also been told what I must and should go and learn in respect of offending behaviour courses, but I can’t recall ever being asked, what have you learnt?

If you can, think of someone’s prison journey, the indirect education of prison. It isn’t the same as life out here, something I’m sure we can agree on, but prison does provide skills which a person in prison can utilise in the transition from prison to the living of life, hopefully, crime-free, in society.

A prison education can provide more than simply better ways to get away with your next heist.


2 thoughts on “What did you learn?

  1. When I saw in the Prison Strategy White Paper that the MoJ will be involving people with lived experience far more at all stages of the justice system to discuss with people, youngsters on the edge of crime, those inside for the first time, those inside for a long time, to talk through education and ideas that can turn around their lives I thought of your example David and am delighted that they are going to do this far more in future. Your work must have had a large role in demonstrating how positive this can be.

    Liked by 1 person

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