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Report about education programs in the prison context

A report on the state of prisons in different countries

REPORT- Situation of the penitentiary facilities contacted

1. Heads of Reference Universities and the Director of the Higher Institute of Penitentiary Studies

Italy: Dr. Alessandra Bormioli – Ministry of Justice – Department of the Penitentiary Administration

Spain: Dr. Marilisa Birello -Autonomous University of Barcelona

Germany: Dr. Marco Depietri- University of Bamberg

Portogallo: Dr. Manuela Niza – Fernando Pessoa University

France: Dr. Jean-François Cottier – Paris Diderot University

2. Heads of the penitentiary structures involved


Ida del Grosso (Director of the Roma-Rebibbia Women’s Prison)

Salvatore Pirruccio (Director of the New Penitentiary Complex of Padua)

Maria Grazia Giampiccolo (Director of the Prison of Florence Sollicciano)

Sergio La Montagna (Director of the Prison of Siena)


Manuel Parra (Coordinator of the Penitentiary Schools)

Jaume Martín (Consultant for International Relations)

Elvira Sánchez Valbuena (Director of the Santiago Rusiñol school)


Dr. Johann Endres –

Criminological Services of the Bavarian Penitentiary Administration

c/o Prison (JVA) Erlangen

Schuhstraße 41

91052 Erlangen

JVA Neuburg-Herrenwörth

Mr. Günter Kapaun (Rector of the School Department)

Mrs. Simone Nißl (Teacher at the Prison)

JVA Ebrach

Mr. Hinney (Head of School Department)


Dr. Licínio Lima- Deputy Director General of the Penitentiary Service

Dr. Luis  Gagliardini Graça – ONG CONFIAR – organization for integration and rehabilitation


Fresnes and Osny Prisons, Poissy Prison, South of Île-de-France Prison Detainment Center of Réau

With Fleury-Mérogis and the Prison de la Santé, Fresnes is one of the three main and most important penitentiary establishments in France

3. Institutions contacted


Female Prison Roma Rebibbia, New Penitentiary Complex Padova, Firenze Sollicciano Prison and Siena Prison

Nationality of detainees:

Around 50% of detainees in the four institutes are foreigners.

Education includes literacy courses, primary school, secondary school and language courses in the Female Prison Roma Rebibbia. In the New Penitentiaty Complex in Padova there are a few university campuses. Much of the detainees attend secondary school; the rest attend vocational schools.


Juvenile Detention Facility in Barcelona – SCHOOL SANTIAGO RUSIÑOL Juvenile Detention Facility in Barcelona

Nationality of detainees:

Around 70% of detainees in the Juvenile Detention Facility are foreigners.

In the field of adult education (see point 5– Program Marc d’Organització Curricular) a majority of detainees  attend high school (Secundària I e Secundària II) and the Batxillerat (a course that permits to attend courses at university); another part of detainees attend the Scuola FIP (professional schools), foreign detainees’ levels of the Catalan and Spanish language are comparable to that of middle school students.


JVA Neuburg-Herrenwörth:

1 course for beginners, 2 hours per week, 10 detainees, 1 teacher, permanent course

Materials: Ping Pong 1 (Arbeitsbuch und Arbeitsheft- workbook), Der Fibel-Fuchs (Klett Verlag) and games for children (die Uhr, ABC…)

1 course for advanced learners: from Monday to Friday, 20 hours per week, 2 teachers, 5 detainees, course duration: 3 months, 3 courses per year

Materials: Ping Pong 2

JVA Ebrach (Juvenile male penitentiary)

Interested in courses starting from A2 level so mostly for beginners; but not only.


All portuguese lessons in prison are the responsibility of Portuguese Ministry of Education in cooperation with the prison schools. Lessons take place regularly once a week and last 90 minutes.

Another type of education is in specific educating towards a range of professions at the expense of ONG like the CONFIAR that currently has a project that activates and renovates libraries in prisons.

4. The overall situation of the country


The Italian penitentiary system has as its normative source of constitutional status the art. 27, paragraph 3 of the Constitution, that takes into account that “punishments may not consist in treatments that are contrary to the notion of humanity and must tend to re-educate the convict”.

In application of this principle, Law 354/75, the so-called Penitentiary Reform, was issued, followed by the Implementation Regulation dpr 431/76, replaced with the Presidential Decree 230/200 (New Implementing Regulations).

When it comes to the organization of the Penitentiary Administration, the unit responsible is the Head of Department and no.  3 General Managements at the headquarters of the Penitentiary Administration.

At the decentralized headquarters, there are 11 Regional Administrators envisaged on whom depend directions of the penitentiary institutions based in the districts of competence of  the Administrators.

The penitentiary staff is comprised, apart from directors, prison guards, by staff from the Security Sector (Penitentiary Police, civilian police force since 1990) and staff from the Ministry’s Sector (educators, social workers, psychologists, accounting and administrative personnel).

The main division between penitentiary institutions is the division between Case di Reclusione (Detention Houses), in which the final detainees are restricted and the Case Circondariali (Prisons), where the accused are to remain up to the final sentence of conviction.

The number of penitentiary institutions in Italy amounts to 206.

The detention houses are characterized by numerous elements that are in favour of a “re-educative approach”; a requirement provided for penitentiary Administration that focuses on vocational training courses, on instruction, on cultural and work activities that must support the detainee with the prospect of his future “social reintegration” following the dismissal from prison.

In prisons the same elements of the re-educative approach are put forward by educational area, offering mental treatment to the accused.

The instructors are dependent on the M.I.U.R that, in compliance with the Managements of the penitentiary institutions and the type of the detainees that are present, organize literacy courses, middle and upper secondary schools as well as university courses (for a full examination of the courses, consult the website giustizia.it, section on “penitentiary schools”).

Presence of foreigners. Foreigners present on the 30.09.2015 are one third of all the detainees. The majority of them come from the following countries: Morocco, Romania, Albania, Tunisia, Nigeria, Egypt and Algeria.

Taking into account the age groups, in most cases they are people between 30 and 34 years old (3,844 out of 17,462 foreign detainees on December 31st, 2014) followed by the 25/29 year-olds (3,653), while the other age groups are residual.

As for the qualifications and titles, the majority of foreign detainees (3.502 on December 31st, 2004) graduated from secondary school, a significant part does not possess any diploma (927) and many have only one title that may be an equivalent of our primary school certificate.

In most cases entities are single (8.122), followed by those married (4.182). It can be considered as representative the scheduled meeting between the detainee (at his point of arrival at the penitentiary institution) and the different penitentiary operators of the “Servizio Nuovi Giunti” (a unit that takes care of freshly arrived detainees) where the meeting of the units of the multi-professional staff of the Servizio Nuovi Giunti has the priority of quickly individualizing  detainee’s personal problems and giving him the first directions about the prison rules.

In the event of incarceration, a medical examination is provided to make certain that the person is capable of tolerating his or her life in the penitentiary institution or if he or she needs special health support.

Problematics. In this particular situation, difficulties concerning communication with the sanitary staff may appear, both for linguistic reasons and for the frequent unwillingness of the foreign detainees to speak about illnesses they are affected by, even more so if before, as illegal immigrants, they did not have an opportunity to undergo a medical examination.

The major difficulties that foreign detainees face in the penitentiary system concern the possibility to make use of penitentiary benefits and of alternative measurements, with the risk of finding themselves in a sort of “double binary”, different for Italians and foreigners.

A possibility to access alternative measurements has in fact a reflection in the lack of an external support network for those foreign detainees that do not have, in most cases, as viewed in the foreword, access to housing, a family network and regular job opportunities.

This generates a loss of the ability to envisage the future for foreign detainees and, in the case of prison workers, in a speculative way, the frustration of not being capable of imagining the process of social reintegration that is suitable for the detainee.

To summarize the educational needs of the prison workers in their relationship with foreign prisoners, they seem to be oriented towards the acquisition of:

linguistic abilities (considered to be the first network necessary to encourage reciprocal acquaintance);

knowledge of the basic elements of other cultures (facts about history, religion, political situations, non-verbal and meta verbal expressions);

knowledge of existing legislation in Italy on foreigners (to identify possible job opportunities and the reintegration or the renewal of the residence permit);

knowledge of the job opportunities and the reintegration offered by the local network;

knowledge of the experiences and opportunities of social reintegration that have a transnational character.


Spain is a parliamentary monarchy composed of 17 Autonomous Communities and 2 provinces in Africa (Ceuta and Melilla). Catalonia is an autonomous community with four provinces (Barcelona, ​​Girona, Tarragona, and Lleida) and is the only one in the entire Spanish state whose penitentiary administration is completely autonomous (since January 1st, 1984).

The Departament de Justícia (Department of Justice) of Catalonia is divided into two administrative offices: Secretaria de Serveis Penitentiary Rehabilitation, Justícia Juvenil (the Administrative Office of the Penitentiary Services, Youth Rehabilitation and Justice) and Secretaria de Relacions and the Administration of Justice (the Administrative Office Of Relations with the Administration of Justice).

The Administrative Office of the Penitentiary Services, Youth Rehabilitation and Justice is furtherly composed of two management offices: the Direcció General de Recursos i Règim Penitenciari (General Management of Resources and Penal Code) and the Direcció General d’Execusió Penal a la Comunitat i de Justícia Juvenil (General Management of Criminal Enforcement in the Community and Juvenile Justice). The management offices are divided into sub-managements.

Spanish prisons refer to two different penitentiary administrations: Catalan administration, dependent on the Department of Justice and Spanish administration, dependent on the Ministry of Internal Affairs since 1992. In total there are 68 penitentiary institutions under Spanish administration and 15 under Catalan administration.

(There are 15 penitentiary institutions in Catalonia in total)

In May 2015, on the basis of data provided by the Departament de Justícia, [1], in Catalan prisons there were 9213 detainees among whom 3961 were of foreign origin.

The Spanish Penalty Decree states that penitentiary administrations must organize within their prisons programs to develop abilities and competences of the detainees, to enrich their knowledge and to provide them with technical and professional skills they lack, so that they can improve their living conditions and prevent the repetition of criminal behaviors.

Sports, learning and rehabilitation activities are established by the Board of Directors, which must take into account the plans of the Central Management. As for the activities related to work, one must distinguish the difference between what happens in Catalonia and what happens in the rest of Spain. In Catalonia, companies for which the penitentiary administration works are located inside the prison and provide machinery and materials and, simultaneously, the Department of Justice provides jobs and spaces to be used for these activities. In Spain, however, the Autonomous Workers’ Organization and Employment Training (OATPFE, Organismo Autónomo Trabajo Penitenciario y Formación para el Empleo) is in charge of vocational training and the employment of detainees that follow the vocational training and integration plan with funds from the Public Employment Service and the European Social Fund.

In the field of education, organizing literacy courses is a priority for detainees on lower levels of education. However, also secondary education is provided  to meet higher levels of competence and knowledge, as well as a possibility to attend university courses. In this regard, the Spanish penitentiary system has signed an agreement with the Universidad de Educación a Distancia, thanks to which the detainees can gain access to courses organized by this university on the same terms as the rest of the citizens: a student detainee can benefit from tutoring, long-distance support and teaching material.

The program marc d’organització curricular (PMOC): a framework program for curriculum organization in the Penitentiary Institutes of Catalonia. The PMOC is composed of 5 areas: 1) adult education; 2) world of work; 3) health and personal development; 4) legal, social and cultural context; 5) special attention. In the field of adult education the following areas can be found: 1) linguistic area; 2) basic education; 3) preparation for access trials and post-secondary long distance education; 4) skills regarding new technologies.

For our studies the fields of interests are: the linguistic area, the basic education and the preparation for access trials and post-secondary long distance education.

The linguistic area includes the following subjects: the Spanish language, the Catalan language, a foreign language (English or French).

Basic education includes: a) an instrumental education cycle (instrumental cycle I, II and III); b) secondary education cycle (secondary education I and II); C) medium grade education cycle.

The preparation for the access trials and secondary long distance education include the cicles formatius (vocational schools), the Batxillerat I and II (high school) and post-secondary long distance education (courses with access to the UNED faculty-Universidad Nacional a Distancia- and to the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona).


The management of the entire Bavarian administration is in the hands of the Bavarian Ministry of Justice.

Bavaria has 36 prisons, of which 6 are juvenile prisons.

Situation on the 31st of March, 2014:

Total number of detainees: 11423 comprising foreigners: 3822 from 110 countries.

Country of origin: Turkey 15.5%, Romania 13.2%, Poland 7.1%, Serbia 5.0%, Italy 4.2%, Czech Republic 3.5%, Kosovo 3.4%, other countries 48, 0%.


No title: 39.5%, education comparable to primary school: 51.2%, average education: 4.4%,high school diploma: 0.7%, unspecified: 4.2% (survey 2013/14)

Professional measures (situation in 2014):

928 qualified vocational training places, 340 of which in juvenile prisons; larger structures have trainee workshops and vocational training courses

In 2013, 98 detainees attended the end-of-apprenticeship exam

Courses offered (situation in 2014):

Courses for obtaining average education

Professional courses for those who have to attend vocational training courses or for those already in the vocational training course.

2 facilities offer the “Telekolleg” course, that is the achievement of technical maturity with the help of paper and multimedia material over a period of 20 months, provided that a professional course has already been completed.

In 2 structures it is possible to achieve a technical high school diploma (Technical A level)

Larger structures offer literacy courses, courses in general culture and language courses.

Currently in only one structure there is a possibility for 16 detainees to attend long distance university (University of Hagen).

Voluntary work: 660 active volunteers, engaged in individual care.

820 other voluntary associations.

Requirements: 21 years, reliability

Tasks: mitigate personal problems, encouraging / fostering education and professional skills, co-ordinating groups to speak, practicing sports or other leisure activities, counseling in conflict situations, escorting, support in looking for home and / or work, promoting the transition to freedom, preparing the release from prison, support the release from prison, dismantling prejudices.


There are 51 penitentiary institutes present on the national territory in Portugal.

The management of the penitentiary system is divided into various parts: between the Ministry and the Director-General, between the Director-General and the Union of Guards, and between the directors of the prisons and the guards; these organs, however, fail to work in a coordinated manner. In specific, the General Direction works in a dissociative manner from the Ministry and has the job to stabilize the politics of the penitentiary system and at the same time it is publicly responsible for what happens inside this system. In turn, the individual directors of prisons do not cooperate with the General Direction but are left at the mercy of the Union of Guards, whose heads have the almost absolute power inside prisons.

Inside the penitentiary institutions, the statute envisages the possibility that the directors arrange re-educative and recreational activities, but the organization and arrangements of activities vary from structure to structure.

Education in prisons is established by Despacho-Conjunto nº 451/99 [2].

Up to 1979 teaching in penitentiary institutions was under the responsibility of the engineers of the Ministry of Justice, which, in addition to teaching, also carried out other education-related tasks. Since 1979, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Education have been in charge of the courses.

In recent years about 28% of detainees attend the courses offered in prison. Apart from regular school tuition, extracurricular activities such as: Portuguese for Foreigners, Citizenship Education, Visual Arts, Music and Sports are offered in the penitentiary centers.


The French penitentiary system falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice and is made up of 190 prisons spread across the whole territory of France.

The penitentiary administration is formed by a central body consisting of the Minister of Justice, from whom two subordinate positions (of social reintegration and penitentiary affairs) depend. This structure is also composed of several administrative services and a specialized division to complete the Administration’s action.

The French penitentiary law distinguishes many forms of institutions that take particular denominations in relation to their function:

As “Établissements pour peines” are defined all institutes for final convicts;

The “central maison” receives the most difficult and problematic condemned;

In the “centres de détention” detainees are sentenced to a sentence of more than one year;

The “maison d’arrêt” is intended for defendants awaiting trial and detainees who have to pay a penalty of less than one year.

The staff of the Penitentiary Administration is subdivided into:

– management staff, composed of the director, the sub-director, the regional director;

– administrative staff, composed of those who deal with the economic and financial management of the establishments;

– technical staff and vocational training staff;

– educational staff, consisting of educators;

– surveillance staff.

In France between the 1970s and the 1990s the number of prisoners increased. Subsequently, towards the 2000s, the foreign population present in the penitentiary centers declined to about 20% of the total. This percentage of foreign prisoners does not correspond to the percentage of foreigners present in the country: foreigners are 6% of the population, in prison they amount to 20% of the detainees. However, CIMADE [3] states that these figures are not comparable, taking into account that 6% are only regular foreigners resident in France and irregularities are omitted. The fact remains that foreigners easily become protagonists of criminal procedures and processes.

The percentage of foreign women detained in prison reached 5.6% in 2004.

On December 31, 2012, the total number of prisoners is 65,848, of whom 13,821 are foreigners, 18% of the total [4].

The illiteracy of foreign detainees (in their L1) is one of the biggest problems in prison. In 2000, 17% of irregular foreigners and 12.4% of foreign detainees declared themselves illiterate in their L1.

According to the latest figures that date back to year 2011, nearly 64,000 detainees, 16,149, or 25%, follow education programs. Among these, 64% follow basic literacy and basic education courses, 12% attend secondary education, and only 1.4% follow university courses. [5]

The organization and management of education inside the French prisons is the task of the Ministry of National Education and the courses are held by teachers who are temporarily assigned to prisons, although some volunteers are also employed in the field of penitentiary education and various associations.

As for resources, priority is given to detainees who are mostly in need of basic education, where primary education and literacy programs are present in all French prisons. Secondary education is also available, while for higher education levels the detainees are forced, if they are willing to and if they have the economic opportunity, to follow long distance courses.

5. Penitentiary structures involved in past projects


Project Priebe:  Prison  Education  Basik  Skill  Blended learning

Objectives: demonstrate that is is possible to achieve ICT training in Penitentiary Institutions, in collaboration with school referents and prison staff, by providing a “long distance” training course for a sample group of detainees on: economics, computerization, English.

Institutions and participating countries: Italy- (University of Florence, Department of Educational and Psychology Sciences – ISSP – regional agency of Abruzzo); Romania; Cyprus; Greece,

Calendar: December 2013-December 2015


The project envisages three orders of intervention. Formation of trainers (prison staff, both security and educational area); provision of training to present detainees; provision of ICT training courses to detainees in the Circondarial House of Pesaro. The aim is to spread this “long distance” training mode to other penitentiary institutions, increasing the possibility and the spread of the use of IT platforms – available only at some of the regulatory provincial offices of the penitentiary administration.


Projects involving the Serveis Penitenciaris:

1) PriMedia

Studies on the improvement of existing initiatives in Europe in the use of new technologies in the penitentiary context.

– Institutions and participating countries: TCOT (United Kingdom), Sonder Omme (Denmark), Halden (Norway), Gymnasium ans Lyceum (Poland), POLO Europa (Italy), South West College (United Kingdom), Amitie (Italy), Integra Belgium), IMOTEC (Lithuania), SEEDS (United Kingdom), DKI (Netherlands), Departament de Justícia (Catalonia)

Objective: to create an European network of organizations that promote the use of new information and communication technologies and multimedia in the penitentiary context.

– Calendar: December 2012 – December 2015

– Activity: research, identification and application of good practices through specific seminars, creation of a website, project evaluation and the application of results.

2) Transferring sentences – Transferring People (Step 2)

Study on the Romanian population held in the penitentiary centers of Italy, Spain and Catalonia.

– Institutions and participating countries:

National Offender Management Service, Penitentiary Administrations of Romania, Italy, Spain and Catalonia, University of Monfort and Bucharest, Europris

– Objective: create an information exchange mechanism in application of EU European Convention DM 2008 2008/909 on the transfer of Romanian prisoners residing in the EU and a case study of detainees of Romanian nationality;

– Calendar: May 2014 – december 2015

– Activities: study of the social profile and the legal situation of prisoners of Romanian nationality in the penitentiary centers of Spain, Italy and Catalonia; survey on the needs regarding training of the penitentiary staff; manual for internal with guidelines for social reintegration.

3) Art and culture in the presó

Design and realization of various artistic and cultural activities in prison.

– Institutions and participating countries: Tuscany Region, Michelucci Foundation (Italy), Berliner Literarische Aktion e. V., (Germany) The Manchester College, the Art in prison Foundation (England) and the Departament de Justícia (Catalonia).

Objectives: Identify good practices; establish common criteria; develop cultural and artistic activities in the penitentiary context (cinema, art, music, painting, crafts, architecture …)

– Calendar: project completed in 2012

– Activities: Knast & Theater International Symposium the prison theater, International Theater Festival in Prison, Seminar Art and Culture in Prison


The Head of the Prison Services has confirmed that there are currently no projects comparable to RiUscire. Only measures to give psychological support to the detainee are organized.

[1] http://www.gencat.cat/justicia/estadistiques_serveis_penitenciaris/1_pob.html

[2] DR nº01 of June 1999

[3] http://www.lacimade.org/

[4] Data from the French Ministry of Justice

[5] Source: http://www.prisonobservatory.org/