Tuesday, 13 May 2008

82, 000 and (no) change

Offenders have severe learning and skills needs: half of offenders in custody have no qualifications and almost 40 per cent have a reading age beneath that expected of a competent 11 year old. Addressing this is challenging as offenders are likely to have negative experiences of education in the past – almost half of offenders were excluded from school.
Meeting Needs? The Offenders learning and skills service - National Audit Office report (March, 2008)
The report goes on to suggest that the £110 m/annum spent on the Offender Learning and Skills Service (OLASS) is not delivering "to the level of which the service is capable" (NAO, 2008).

According to Debra Baldwin, Head of Prisoner Skills & Employment for NOMS nearly 70% of offenders have never been employed and if a parent is an offender a child has a better than 50% chance of ending up in gaol.

70% of convicted felons have two or more recognisable mental disorders

60% misused drugs and/or alcohol

32% were homeless prior to conviction.
Offender learning is a very seductive drug, most who come in contact with it become addicted for all sorts of reasons not least because it's "the right thing to do" and, like all junkies we think we can kick the habit when we want but I think we need to wise up.

The prison system in this country is actually serving as a final destination for those poorly served by compulsory education; 50% of those in prison were excluded from school, 30% were regularly truanting from school. Of course this raises another issue - should the school system be the place where those with mental illnesses can be diagnosed? And if it is what services have we in place to support people? But there can be little doubt that the current policy of building "Titan" prisons; prisons built to accommodate increasing numbers of offenders, won't deal with the real issues - in the UK today we wait until those who can't deal with modern society offend and then lock them away. And that's simply not working.

3 careful considerations:

kat said...

Everyone should be given the opportunity to work in OLASS or to be associated with it in some way. It is a real eye-opener and an education in itself.

Some random stranger said...

So am I to assume that all I am missing is the being the offender, as I am pretty sure I have all the ailments you listed...

Nogbad said...

SRS - I think it's fair to say that those who know you are constantly surprised that you aren't enjoying HM's B&B