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​Lithgow inmates go back to school to stop re-offending

Issued: 25 July 2013
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Lithgow Correctional Centre inmates with poor education will go back to school at the prison’s new Intensive Learning Centre (ILC), as part of a state-wide initiative to combat reoffending through learning.

Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) Commissioner Peter Severin said the ILC is aimed at fully engaging inmates in education – many for the first time in their lives – as poor education is shown to be strongly linked to offending.

Current CSNSW data shows 45 per cent of almost 9,800 prison inmates did not finish Year 10.

CSNSW has assessed most inmates’ literacy and numeracy skills, revealing one quarter of those assessed cannot read at Year 10 level, half cannot write at Year 10 level and almost three quarters do not have Year 10-level numeracy skills.

Lithgow’s new ILC will give maximum-security inmates who have never mastered reading, writing or numeracy skills with a stable, structured learning environment, supported by interactive learning technology.

A $600,000 conversion of an existing building at the Correctional Centre will create new classrooms, a library and interview rooms where inmates will take part in regular progress reviews.

The ILC will be completed by the end of 2013 and the courses conducted by CSNSW teachers.

"This new Intensive Learning Centre will allow Lithgow inmates to study full time, for the first time," said Mr Severin.

"Currently offenders study part time, but this dedicated learning facility will see offenders attending classes five days a week for six months straight."

The ILC will have digital learning aids such as Smart Boards and computer programs with interactive learning resources. Tools such as CV builders will help pre-release inmates prepare for employment, said Mr Severin.

Inmates attending the ILC will undertake intensive literacy, numeracy and communication studies and also learn computer skills and trades such as motor mechanics and horticulture. Inmates will be able to complete TAFE NSW-accredited Certificate 1 and 2 courses within six months.

Mr Severin said the basic literacy, numeracy and learning skills obtained at the ILC will also be an important precursor to inmates completing rehabilitation programs that address their offending behaviours.

"These Intensive Learning Centres will give inmates the skills that will help them break the offending cycle upon their release into society and ensure they have a chance at gaining employment," Mr Severin said.

"Typically, the offenders who come into our custody have not completed Year 10, have experienced disrupted schooling and have poor employment histories - those things are strongly linked to their offending behaviours.

"Lithgow is an ideal place to locate an Intensive Learning Centre because it is a maximum-security prison and the inmates are generally serving long sentences.

"These inmates will have the time, the opportunity and a structured environment to get the education and basic skills they have never gained, because they have not been truly engaged by the education system before."

CSNSW has already established ILCs at South Coast and Wellington Correctional Centres, with an ILC also to be established at Mid-North Coast Correctional Centre by the end of 2013.