Prison Education 2008 – What has changed?

Considering the current climate on prison reform and education int nick I thought I might share another snippet from my book. I’m editing this chapter as we speak and found it quite ironic. It’s been eight years since I wrote this at HMP Brixton. I think I may have been plagiarised. Book should be completed in the next couple of weeks all being well.

“HMP Brixton 2008

I’ve got loads of plans for my future, all positive. Need to get out of Brixton as soon as possible though – I’m in limbo here. Will definitely continue writing. I’ll start a new piece after my trial – see how my life pans out.
Oh God, I’m frightened.

Another new day with a new set of feelings and emotions. Been getting up a bit earlier each morning. Purely in the interest of motivation, building my resolve for next week. I’m convinced I’ll be getting a long stretch, but find it hard to write about. When I see it in black and white it looks so final.
Ten years.

My education classes are coming on leaps and bounds. I’ve started to learn how to design web pages. To tell you the truth, come night time I’m knackered. Eight weeks ago could do spreadsheets, data base and word–processing as I’d already had a qualification in C.L.A.I.T, gained many years ago in Northern Ireland. Here at Brixton I’ve learned about power-point presentations and went on to make some animations using the GIMP (free computer graphic design similar to photoshop.) Managed to put all of this together and by Monday I’d started to design my own web–site.

Well chuffed with what I’ve achieved in such a short period of time especially with the constant aggravations of my impending trial and the day to day bollocks of being in prison. B, Clarkie and G have been brilliant. Clarkie has taught me a lot, not just about design, but how to help others. He has a warped and twisted sense of humour and has a real cleverness in his teaching methods. Pushing the arsiest of arseholes in the right direction.

Feel as if education is my saviour. It feels like my own type of sanctuary when I leave the wing and get into the classroom. Nothing else matters when I’m working. I’ve finally found something I would like to be good at, to take pride in something again. For far too long I’ve been living it up and letting my standards slip. In a weird way, don’t mind if I get ten years.

You have to be serving at least four years if you want to be considered for an Open University Degree. Three or three and a half is no good; so I’ve been told. Could make a long list of faults with education within the prison system. Especially the prison officers’ attitude to prisoners even attending education classes. There are so many restrictions and conditions attached to education it makes it very difficult to deliver anything more than the basic skills. There are so many creative and resourceful guys in any prison, yet very few within the prison establishment want to channel this creativity into something productive. Prison policy is to protect the public, to help stop prisoners from re–offending and to make them acceptable to the community upon release.
This is all a crock of shit.

Here at Brixton they want to halve the sessions at education so that the core day is easier to manage. Due to staffing levels they find it impossible to deliver a regular regime. Someone in their infinite wisdom has decided that the solution is to have one session of association and one session of education per day. So, the people who want to do something constructive are having their time halved to spend the other half of the day standing around getting into trouble.

The future of prison and disrupting re–offending is through motivation and generating hope. Motivation to create, add confidence and encourage people to change their ways. What type of message can the prison service deliver to average illiterate crook? Think I may have already said ‘do they use education like a carrot.’ Only to take it away if you don’t play ball or things aren’t going too smoothly.

In my humble and limited understanding of the well oiled machine, it is clear that we are living in an environment that is totally adverse to the natural quest to find an answer to our social problems. If a person’s negative energy can be turned into something constructive and creative then the individual’s desire to learn more will be insatiable. Adding a new strength to a person’s will to live and to be a better person. An energy that if and when it is tapped and used properly could be worth its weight in gold. Why can’t the authorities’ see this?”

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About micsirwin

I'm a Postgraduate student at Queens studying Criminology, writer, poet and lover of integrity, dignity, respect and morality
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