Partnerships between prisons and local or foreign universities are becoming a global trend. Well established in the UK, Europe, and growing across Africa, the move is to provide higher education programmes for inmates to ensure their successful reintegration.
Jamaica is about to lead this charge in the Caribbean as its programme to provide university education to inmates in its correctional facilities will soon materialize.
Local media, Jamaican Observer reports that representatives of the Prison to College Pipeline project are planning to visit Jamaica next month to develop talks with the stakeholders involved, that is, The University of the West Indies, Mona, the Department of Correctional Services and others.
The Prison to College Pipeline project is an educational initiative by Dr Baz Dreisinger, an English professor at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Its aim is to provide college for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people to enable them to reintegrate and find jobs upon release.
The programme to achieve this in Jamaica should have started a year ago but stalled due to lack of funding. Dr Dreisinger is optimistic that the programme will go on as planned this year.
She added that a fund-raising programme has been launched to secure US$100,000 to fund the start of the Jamaica project.
In East Africa, countries like Uganda and Kenya have already begun prison-university partnership moves through the Africa Prisons Project. West African country Ghana also announced last year that it was introducing measures that will see inmates upgrade their academic qualification through a distance learning program offered by some local universities.