Investing in doing time : the potential of self-transformative activities in the prison world. Focus on prison education and spiritual guidance in France

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Mahdjoub, Algance
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This thesis focuses on the importance and implementation of non-vocational education and spiritual guidance in prisons. France is taken as the primary case study although other countries' policies are cited, when deemed relevant and for reference purposes. Prison education is part of the right to education for all and the right to spiritual guidance derives from the freedom of religion. Those fundamental human rights are protected on many levels through international legal and soft law benchmarks. This research presents prison education and spiritual guidance as important tools for the rehabilitative aim of prison. They can be perceived as complementary. Indeed, teachers and chaplains both play the role of educators, the latter in an informal way. Furthermore, both have been presented as playing a role in desistance from crime, institutional adjustment and reintegration. Following in-depth research and the conduct of interviews with teachers and chaplains, conclusions were drawn on whether France adequately provides access to educational and spiritual activities and ensures their quality. This research's findings suggest that a strong emphasis on the disciplinary purpose of prison imperils human rights as a whole. Non vocational education is still too often perceived as a "privilege" a detainee is only too lucky to have access to and not as a basic human right. It has direct consequences on its availability and quality. On the other hand, counter-radicalisation efforts in prison following a wave of terrorist attacks led by former detainees may impact the prison chaplains' task and its relationship with detainees, especially Muslim inmates who might require his guidance but who may doubt the chaplains' motives. The precarious status of chaplains may also impact negatively access to spiritual guidance in this setting. The situation is worrisome. Inmates are more likely to lack basic education and a significant number also lacks religious instruction. This makes them a target of choice for preachers of violence. Furthermore, the failure to uphold these rights constitutes a wasted opportunity to form lawabiding citizens mindful of other people's rights and values. Keywords: prison education ; spiritual guidance ; total institution ; carceral shock ; desistance from crime ; rehabilitation ; moral contract ; unequal treatment
Second semester University: University of Vienna
prisons, right to education, freedom of religion, France, rehabilitation, reintegration, discrimination