Learning Behind Bars

The rabble podcast network offers an alternative take on politics, entertainment, society, stories, community and life in general. All opinions belong to the podcaster; however, podcasters are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new podcasters -- contact us for details.

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca in its summer fundraiser today for as little as $1 per month!

The Special Rapporteur on Education is collecting input for a report about education in prisons around the world to be released in June 2009.

So, what can we say about Canada?

Unfortunately, there are very few educational opportunities for prisoners here in Canada. The prison system increasingly focuses on risk management and has cut several historically successful post-secondary educational programs.

To find out more about the history and current state of education in prison, Stark Raven spoke with three people.

Bob Gaucher is a retired professor of criminology from the University of Ottawa and has been active in the prison abolition movement for many years. He was one of the first to take university courses while serving time in prison in the late 1960's. And he has spent many years working with lifers and teaching criminology to prisoners. [1:23-23:35]

Robb Johannes studied the transformative effects that education can provide to those behind bars. He researched BC’s defunct Prison Education Program as well as the connections between restorative justice and education in prison. [24:05 - 37:40]

Lara-Lisa Condello is an instructor at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology who works with women at the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women in Maple Ridge, BC, on an aboriginal-centered educational program. She speaks about that program and about some of the work she is doing working with prisoners, and ex-prisoners, making the connections between education and health. [38:04 - 44:30]

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.