prison education, rehabilitation, adult education


This article examines the relationship between education and rehabilitation within the prison context. It begins by exploring the concept of rehabilitation, examining if prison rehabilitation is possible or if it is what Pat Carlen describes as a “penal imaginary”. Drawing on this idea, it considers how rehabilitation may act as a way of legitimising imprisonment and whether rehabilitation is in fact damaging and criminogenic. It then moves to explore other models of rehabilitation and imprisonment that may offer a more person-centred approach. Section two of the article begins by discussing understandings of adult education. It examines conflicting interpretations of education, settling on an understanding that is underpinned by principles of freedom. It then moves to explore how adult education is practised and understood within the prison context. Finally, this article analyses the relationship between prison education and prison rehabilitation, considering what kinds of education and rehabilitation may be conducive to supporting the holistic development of the person in prison.

Author Bio

Lorraine Higgins is a second-year PhD student in Maynooth University. Her research aims to bring the fields of education and criminology into conversation with one another and gain an insight into the experience of prison education in Ireland and how this experience relates to theories and processes of reintegration, rehabilitation, and desistance.

Lorraine is a Home Economics teacher, teaching in Cork Prison and the Dillon’s Cross Project, in Ireland. She has also worked as a Core Skills Instructor in HMP Addiewell in Scotland.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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