Thinking, Learning, Freedom

Project duration: 03/2017 – 08/2018

The need

Huge effort is put into reducing the recidivism rate in the Czech Republic from the actual 70% to 50%. In the new ten-year concept of the Czech prison service presented to the government at the beginning of this year emphasis is placed on improving education and training of the prisoners to increase their chances to find jobs after release from prison. The training should focus on technical fields and crafts demanded in the labor market as well as on computer and language skills and financial literacy. According to the Prison Service statistics, 44% of prisoners have only elementary education, 2% did not even complete primary school, 38% finished apprentice training school, only 7% are secondary school graduates. The proportion of Roma prisoners goes beyond 50%, although the proportion of Roma in the population reaches only 3%.

Each prisoner during the execution of sentence is obliged to carry out their treatment program prepared individually. Such a program involves working activities, educational activities, special educational activities, leisure activities and relationships building. The examples of the program components are as follows: art therapy, psychotherapy, psycho-relaxation techniques, legal and social counselling, anti-drug counselling and community sessions. All these activities are expected to ensure remedy of anti-social behavior and to support the learning of prosocial attitudes and behaviors as well as improving and strengthening individuals’ motivation to change. All kinds of education, e.g. elementary, vocational education, secondary and university education, are provided by the Prison Service or in cooperation with other organizations.

Despite all the activities only little attention is paid to cognitive development of the convicts, the inevitable prerequisite of well working thinking and learning processes and preconditions of positive learning results. Thus the chances to succeed in educating the prisoners and preparing them for their future are rather low.

Our approach

The aim of this project is to fill in this gap by providing the educators, psychologists, teachers and social workers of the prison service with the methodology of mediated learning experience with the goal to complement and support the educational and special educational programs used at the present and so to boost the impact of the treatment program.

One of the special educational activities targeted on young convicts with behavior disorder and inclination to violence is the program called TP 21 Junior. The program is based on the principles of the restorative criminal policy with the aim to make the offender realize the liability for the criminal action, make an effort to correct the consequences and after the release be able to reintegrate to the society as a law abiding citizen. This psychoeducational intervention is designed to promote prosocial behavior in chronically aggressive and violent adolescents using techniques to develop social skills, emotional control, and moral reasoning. It takes 12 weeks and is organized twice a year.

The trained staff will be able to use the methodology to maximize the impact of the activities in the treatment programs of the prisoners with specific accent on:

  • correction of deficient cognitive functions,
  • acquisition of basic concepts, vocabulary, labels, operations, and relationships,
  • production of intrinsic motivation (through habit formation),
  • production of reflective, insightful processes,
  • creation of task-intrinsic motivation,
  • change in the attitude of a passive recipient to active generator of new information.

By applying of the parameters of mediated learning experience the prison service workers can diversify the cognitive ways of the prisoners and focus on mediation of regulation and control of behavior, mediation of a feeling of competence, mediation of goal seeking, goal setting, goal achieving, and goal monitoring behavior, mediation of challenge, novelty and complexity. All these will significantly contribute to the endeavor put into reducing recidivism, increasing the number of properly educated and qualified people with ability to get a job.

Our Impact

Offenders are imposed imprisonment sentences in order to prevent them from further offending, to rehabilitate them, and to protect the public.

The aim of this project is to create suitable preconditions for successful remediation and increased impact of the treatment programs.

By implementing the methodology of mediated learning experience our aim is to increase prisoners’ intrinsic motivation, to build their feeling of competence and self-confidence, but also to offer teachers, educators, psychologists and therapists a new approach to working with their students/prisoners.

The goal is to shape modifying environment in the prison units and classrooms that encourages learning, develops cognitive potential and enables students to achieve better results.

The plan is to implement mediated learning experience into the daily school/prison life. To carry this out we need to equip teachers and other prison workers with the knowledge, competences and skills of the methodology and to provide them with methodological support and assistance

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