Bearing in mind the specific nature of education, training and upskilling of prisoners during their prison term, and the ambivalent relationship that the profession and the science have towards that kind of practice, in this article we have tried to answer the following questions by analyzing the data from the Administration for Enforcement of Penal Sanctions: who are the educators, and what is the initial education of staff employed in services providing qualification and employment training practice. We have presented here the data on professional development and knowledge and skills that the staff lack in working with prisoners, based on the results of research conducted in 2016 on a convenience sample (51 employees in these two offices in PCF Požarevac, Zabela and Sremska Mitrovica). The analyzed data have confirmed what we already know, that the significant number of employees in Serbian prisons do not have professional competence for working with prisoners based on their initial education (history teachers, teachers of Marxism, defence and protection teachers, geography teachers, political scientists, mechanical engineers). It is necessary to organize additional education and/or to engage experts in certain fields to improve the practice and create new programs in order to decrease prisoners’ recidivism. Prisoners are entitled to education and training with the aim of successful integration in everyday life and the increase of their chances for employment. Andragogical disciplines should be responsible for planning, organization, realization and evaluation of education and training of prisoners. Only staff equipped with such broad education, including in lifelong, non-formal and informal education and learning, can be useful in organization and practice of resocialization, training and reintegration of prisoners. Educational make-up, that is, professional competences of the large number of staff within the services for prisoners’ education and training practice are not in accordance with the specific needs of the prison population they are working with.
Dr Branislava Knežić is Associate Professor at the Department of Pedagogy and Andragogy, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, and a research fellow at the Institute for Criminological and Sociological Research in Belgrade.
This paper is a result of a current research project at the Institute for Criminological and Sociological Research in Belgrade, “Crime in Serbia: Phenomenology, risks and opportunities for social intervention” (47011), supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development RS.