Transition to the community, prison literacy programs and factors which lead to success in the community

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Loewen, Russell James
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This practicum occurred at five prisons in Manitoba and Saskatchewan during the spring of 1997. Five teachers and fifty-seven students participated in this study which sought to describe what occurs in prison schools, reasons for prison school attendance, school-related goals upon release, and self-identified factors influencing the success of these goals. Conclusions reached as a result of this practicum intervention point to the importance of a safe and respectful prison school environment in order for learning to occur. The type of learning environment and subject content in prison schools are influenced, in part, by the philosophical orientation of teachers, prevailing penal philosophy, goals of the local prison administration, and the security level of the prison. Teachers play an important role in helping prisoners set realistic goals for release. As well, maturation and self discovery can occur for prisoners who are willing and able to be committed to the process of personal change. Students in prison make significant gains and many set realistic education-related goals for release. The four primary self-identified factors which prisoners believe will influence the success of release goals include personal motivation, family support, drugs/alcohol, and employment or financial resources. Finally, the implication for literacy research in prison is that Guba and Lincoln's fourth-generation evaluation procedures can assist in a valuable learning process for all stakeholders.