The Bell Foundation has launched two reports which inform the foundation’s three year programme for prisoners and ex-offenders with English as a second language. Language and communication are challenges for many in the criminal justice system, not least those who do not have English as their first language.
’The Language Barrier to Rehabilitation’ by Dr Liz Hales in partnership with Hibiscus Initiatives, recommends that appropriate literacy training and English language skills contribute towards successful resettlement of offenders. Key findings from the report include:
- The highest level of need for Literacy and ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) delivery is amongst those with a low or pre-entry literacy level.
- Small group tuition focusing on language relevant to everyday life is critical. Peer support is key and helps to overcome the barrier of limited resources.
- In the delivery of ESOL, the role of the teacher often extends beyond that of tutor to the offering of guidance, support and signposting.
- The new requirement for post-release supervision of all prisoners from 2014, as set out by the Government’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme, provides an opportunity for better identification of need and signposting to relevant classes for those with limited English language skills.