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Prison education in Finland

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Prison education in Finland
19.5.2010 Karoliina Taruvuori
senior officer,
Criminal sanctions agency
п‚Ё Goals of the prison services:
- to contribute to the security in society by
maintaining a lawful and safe sentence
enforcement system
- to assist in reducing recidivism
Goals set in the Act on
п‚Ё to increase the readiness to live a life
without crime by promoting prisoners’
ability to manage their life and by
promoting their adjustment to society
п‚Ё to prevent the commission of offences
during the sentence term
Increasing readiness
п‚Ё by strengthening the readiness of prisoners
to lead a life without crime
п‚Ё by maintaining the occupational skills and
know-how of prisoners as well as their
working and functioning capacity
п‚Ё by supporting the substance-free way of life
of prisoners
Prisoners’ right to education
п‚Ё Legislation:
Act on Imprisonment
The Constitution of Finland
Basic Education Act
Act on General Upper Secondary Education
Act on Vocational Education
Act on Vocational Adult Education
п‚Ё Recommendations and policies:
Principle of normality
Recommendations of the Committee of
Ministers of the Council of Europe on
education in prison
Development plans and policies of the
Ministry of Education
Act on Imprisonment
п‚Ё The content of imprisonment shall be loss
or restriction of liberty. The enforcement of
imprisonment may not restrict the rights or
circumstances of a prisoner in any other
manner than that provided in the law or
necessary due to the punishment itself.
(Principle of normality)
Participation in activities
п‚Ё The purpose of activities arranged or
approved by the prison is to promote the
placement of prisoners in society
п‚Ё Prisoners are obliged to participate in
activities arranged or approved by the
prison at the confirmed working and
activity hours
Prisoners’ right to education
п‚Ё Prisoners shall, at the confirmed working or
activity hours, be given the possibility to
fulfil their duty to participate in an activity
promoting the implementation of the
sentence plan
п‚Ё Prisoners may participate in training
arranged in the prison or outside it
Prisoners’ right to education
п‚Ё The Constitution of Finland guarantees everyone
the subjective right to basic education free of
п‚Ё In regard to other educational services, the public
authorities have an obligation to arrange them
 ”Everyone has an equal opportunity to receive
other educational services in accordance with their
ability and special needs, as well as the
opportunity to develop themselves without being
prevented by economic hardship or other reasons.”
Arranging education in prison
п‚Ё Training arranged in prison shall comply
with general provisions on the training in
question where applicable
п‚Ё The education is controlled by the education
п‚Ё Prisoners who have not completed the
syllabus of basic studies shall be offered a
possibility for its completion
п‚Ё The studies of prisoners shall be guided and
supported and the success of their studies
shall be monitored
п‚Ё The certificate issued for the studies may
not indicate that the studies have taken
place in prison
Arranging education in prison
п‚Ё Prisoners can participate in education within
the scope of the educational administration
providing that they fulfil the entrance
requirements of the education
п‚Ё Prisoners can study in contact teaching
groups or independently as distance
п‚Ё Prisoners can study in closed and open
prisons (the education is arranged by
education institutions outside the prison)
п‚Ё With a study permit, prisoners can study
outside the prison in a civilian education
institution (typical in open prisons)
Prisoners’ participation in
п‚Ё In 2009, the daily average of studying
prisoners was 305 (includes prisoners
permitted to study outside the prison, i.e.
approximately 78 per day during the year)
п‚Ё A total of 2145 prisoners participated in
educational activities in 2009
Prisoners’ participation in
п‚Ё 262 prisoners participated in general
п‚Ё 610 in orientating and rehabilitating
п‚Ё 136 in vocational upper secondary and
further education
Completed qualifications in 2009
п‚Ё 9 prisoners completed basic education
п‚Ё 4 prisoners received a general upper secondary
school certificate
п‚Ё 5 prisoners completed matriculation examination
п‚Ё 21 prisoners completed a vocational upper
secondary qualification
п‚Ё 11 prisoners completed a further vocational
п‚Ё 1 prisoner completed a higher education degree
Goals of prison education
п‚Ё Strengthening life control skills and self-
esteem as well as raising motivation for
п‚Ё Presenting education as part of a
comprehensive rehabilitation
п‚Ё Overcoming obstacles of learning and
gaining basic abilities
п‚Ё Integrating into society and motivating to
study in civilian life
п‚Ё Completing discontinued studies
п‚Ё Completing qualifications
Challenges of prison education
 Prisoners’ learning difficulties
- Educational background notably lower in
comparison with the population of the
whole country
- About 6% lack a basic education
- About a third of prisoners have an upper
secondary qualification (vocational or
- Most sentenced prisoners are between 30
and 39 years of age; in the same age group,
84% of the general population have
completed at least an upper secondary
Challenges of prison education
п‚Ё Low educational background can be
explained by, among other things:
- Social exclusion
- Substance use started at an early age
- Learning difficulties that are inborn or
caused by the lifestyle
п‚Ё Learning difficulties are common: about
25% of the general population have
problems with learning whereas among
prisoners the estimate is as high as 70%
Challenges of prison education
п‚Ё Enabling study continuums
- continuing studies, which were started in a
closed prison, in an open prison
- granting study permits to study in an
outside education institution from open
- using supervised probationary freedom,
finding a study place in civilian life
п‚Ё Applying to an education institution after
- continuing the studies started in prison
- providing support for prisoners and
finding out about the application process
Electronic communication of
п‚Ё Working group is planning the
п‚Ё Piloting in open prisons
п‚Ё Implementation challenging in closed
- for the moment, the legislation does not
enable supervision
- resources to build a closed environment
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