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The Profile of the Inmates’ Adult Educator: A Greek Case Study

Petros Tzatsis, Evaggelos Anagnou, Efthymios Valkanos, Iosif Fragkoulis

Hellenic Open University, University of Macedonia, Greece

The inmates’ adult educator implements the principles of adult education in the enclosed prison environment and makes efforts to reintegrate them socially. In Greece, inmates’ adult educators mainly work in Second Chance Schools (SCS) operating in prisons. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of the inmates’ adult educator at the Second Chance School of Chania Prison. The qualitative method was used in this research. According to the results of the survey, the inmates’ adult educators of the SCS of Chania Prison believe they need to have knowledge of the principles of adult education as well as of the prison system. In addition, they perceive the skills to delimit their relationship with prisoners, empathic and problem-solving skills as decisive. Finally, the attitudes of accepting and respecting prisoners are fundamental for the inmates’ adult educators of the SCS of Chania Prison.

Inmates’ education is intended to improve the lives of inmates both during their sentence and after their release. Of course, the purpose of inmates’ education is not perceived by everyone in exactly the same way. Thus, while Costelloe and Warner (2008) and Behan (2007) consider that the primary purpose of inmates’ education is to reduce the devastating effect on prisoners of the incarceration, Magos (2014) highlights the transformational role of education in prison. On the other hand, Schuller (2009) points out that inmates’ education should prepare inmates for professional rehabilitation and employment after serving the sentence. Undoubtedly, inmates’ education has a great value and multiple benefits for the inmates themselves, but also for the whole society.

According to Tewksbury and Stengel (2006), inmates’ education leads to increased selfesteem. Still, the chances for professional employment of inmates are 13% higher for those who have attended an educational program in prison comparing to those who did not attend (Rand Corporation, 2013). According to the Council of Europe (1990), inmates’ education contributes a) to reducing the devastating consequences of the imprisonment of the prisoners, b) to compensating for the previous incomplete and negative educational experiences of the inmates before their imprisonment and c) the inmates’ reformation.

The effectiveness of inmates' education is also considered to be of key importance at the macroeconomic level (Hrabowski & Robbi, 2002; Bazos & Hausman, 2004). Thus, Langelid et al. (2009) report that inmates' education costs only one packet of cigarettes per day for each inmate in Scandinavia. In the study (metaanalysis) of Rand Corporation (2014) in the USA, the main finding is that inmates' education is not only effective but also cost-effective. The European Commission (2011), however, points out that in inmates' education should be adopted not only an economically beneficial (Cost Benefit Analysis) but also a social approach. Of course, many obstacles arise in inmates’ education. First of all, from the existing educational inequalities experienced by the inmates as students in the formal education system (Vergidis, 2014) and secondly from the prison conditions themselves (Tsimboukli & Fillips, 2010; Papaioannou, Anagnou, & Vergidis, 2016). In addition, factors that impede the learning process in prisons are the bureaucratic procedures of the prisons, prison regulations, bad behavior and disobedience of prisoners and harassment of educators (Kabeta, 2017). As far as the relation between the inmates’ education and recidivism is concerned, it seems to be inversely proportional.

Rand Corporation (2013) concludes that inmates who participated in educational programs in prisons are 43% less likely to recidivate after their release than those who did not participate in such programs. However, Ubah (2005) and Gaes (2008) consider that a variety of factors affecting social reintegration should be explored, not just the rates of recidivism in crime. Also, Costelloe and Warner (2008) in a critical view of the concept and function of the prison consider that the prison institution itself "nourishes" the crime and leads to recidivism of the prisoners. Finally, Wright (2014) reports that the close linking of inmates’ education with low rates of recidivism is explained by the fact that the same process of education limits the devastating consequences of the stigmatization of the identity of the prisoners.

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