A change I want to see in prison education: Libraries – thinking out of the box
Home > A change I want to see in prison education: Libraries – thinking out of the box
25 November 2022
In this blog, PLA member Sheena Boll draws on her lived experience to describe a change she would like to see in prison education, why, and what difference it would make. Libraries can be a place for reflection, creativity and even mental escape. Sheena encourages us to think differently about how we use prison libraries, and what they can mean to people.
A place that is vibrant, colourful and resourceful…
A library within a prison serves endless possibilities:
A quiet space to learn and reflect
Online courses can be made available to study at one’s own pace
1:1 mentoring with outside tutors or coaches
Prisoners can mentor each other eventually through a reward or achievements system
Audio, visual and kinaesthetic learning – audio books, picture books, online books and perhaps equipment or an online app where one can ‘do’ or put together an experiment or order things in mathematics, for example
Jobs for prisoners – keep the library tidy, put away books in order i.e. non-fiction books
Books can be lent out to prisoners, given good behaviour (supporting positive behaviour management). Here the outside world becomes less vague day by day
Rotation system can be used for prisoners to work in the library
Arts and crafts sessions – creative days for special occasions or events i.e. Christmas and birthdays
Prisoners are given their ‘own space’ to learn and grow as well as channel their energy
Reading stimulates the brain and also would help with mental health
It is a place to go that is not just four dull walls
Increased chances of employment
Prisoners can become educated in their desired field. Education is found to be linked to patience.
‘Thinking out of the box’ allows prisoners to be released for a short time from any mental strains they are facing. Their imagination can run wild. A space to learn, is a space to grow.
* This blog is an opinion piece by a PLA member and may not represent the views of all members. It is the third in a series – ‘A change I want to see in prison education’ – written by PLA members with lived experience.