Reoffending and rehabilitation are key matters for the Criminal Justice System in Wales; based on a home address system, Wales has the highest rate of incarceration in Western Europe (154 per 100,000) with a high percentage of those released from prison reoffending within twelve months. Moreover, South Wales contains a high level of deprivation, unemployment, homelessness, and under-education. With many Welsh individuals who reside in prison lacking the necessary support and training to secure a suitable home, job or further education upon release.
The Welsh Government have reiterated their support for in-prison education and skills training as key-methods of rehabilitation to bring down reoffending statistics (Hanson, 2019). However, the area is under-researched – it is unclear whilst in prison what level of education is offered to individuals or how adequate the skills training courses are. It has been suggested that educational opportunities in Welsh prisons are not as good as they ought to be (Senedd Research, 2018). With others suggesting some good work is being undertaken in the area (Hanson, 2019). Furthermore, what motivates an incarcerated individual to undertake education and/or skills training and how this promotes desistance from crime is largely misunderstood in literature.
Therefore, the purpose of this research is to explore the link between custodial education, skills training, and resettlement issues to help reduce reoffending in South Wales. Arguably, the individuals best placed to provide information on the benefits of custodial education and skills training while highlighting any resettlement issues upon release are those who directly experience it – incarcerated individuals, in-prison education providers, and third-party voluntary organisations.
Incorporating HMP Swansea, HMP Cardiff, along with Parc Prison, Bridgend, Swansea University will be one of the first institutions to conduct such an in-depth study which aims to provide insights into what level and type of education and skills training can best benefit individuals while incarcerated and what services and provisions might be needed upon an individual’s release from custody to support a life of desistance from crime. While providing insights on the ‘Welsh Penal System’ as an under-researched area of penological enquiry.