Almost 70 per cent of those who end up in prison have left school by the age of 14 and many have undiscovered issues such as dyslexia and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a new taskforce of prisoner education has been told.
The first meeting of the Prison Education Task Force was held in Mountjoy Prison on Wednesday and was attended by Minister for Justice Simon Harris and Minister of State James Browne.
Speaking to the media outside the prison, both Ministers said the taskforce – which is a joint initiative of the Department of Justice and the Department of Higher Education – would be an important tool in reducing rates of recidivism.
“The purpose here is to make sure we can reduce reoffending and that we can provide people who are in prison with opportunities to access training and education and, therefore, reduce recidivism rates,” said Mr Harris.
“We want to ensure that when somebody leaves prison they leave with an accredited qualification, or even a trade, or they have completed a craft. That can help them turn their back on criminality.
“We want to break the cycle where often your mother or your dad are in prison, you are more likely to end up in prison.”
Mr Browne said that seven out of 10 people in prison had left school before they reached the age of 14.
“A serious lack of education has been a big problem. As part of that, there are often diagnosed issues, dyslexia for example.
“We want to address some of those issues as well by providing people with the tools they can use upon their release, including education and employment skills that can reduce recidivism, and further offending.
“And of course, ultimately, what that will do is to make our community safer as well.”