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Prison services let us all down

Your published extract from Mark Salzman's new book on his experiences teaching in a US juvenile remand centre ("Inside story", TES, February 6) revealed that while the penal system in the US is very different from that in our own country, some things are the same.

Education being "cancelled" due to a lack of prison officers, or to prisoners being on "lockdown", is something that prisoners here face with disturbing regularity. Even children in prison, for whom education is a statutory requirement, often go without lessons because prison staff are not available to get them to the education department.

As Mr Salzman highlighted, prisoner education has real potential to turn lives around and help offenders to lead a law-abiding life.

Sadly, in our prison system, education is not available to all prisoners and, even when it is, the range of courses available is often centred on basic skills to the detriment of those capable of higher levels of study.

Education in prisons should be based on the needs of the individual, rather than helping the Government to achieve targets.

Steve Taylor

Co-ordinator

Forum on Prisoner Education

PO Box 42039

London E1

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