Back To School As Young Offenders Get Second Chance

Young prisoners are getting a second chance at education at Hydebank Young Offenders Centre in Belfast. Almost 40% of the inmates at the centre have dyslexia (four times the national average), many have been expelled from school and 70% have poor reading and writing skills.

The offenders – who are mainly aged between 17 and 21 – are serving sentences between seven days long and 15 years.

“We cover everything from teaching some young people to read and write to others sitting Open University degrees,” the prison’s governor, Stephen Davis, told the Belfast Telegraph.

“We try to help them to get something positive out of their time here, rather than just leaving with the label of having been in prison.”

The centre offers essential skills courses, GCSEs, A-Levels, Open University degrees and vocational courses.

One of the current inmates is Belfast teenager Trevor Peel (18), who is serving a life sentence for murder.

“I am currently studying for A-Levels in English and History and hope to do an Open University course in the future,” he said. “I like to think I am a different person now.

“It is hard not to change when you have been in prison for years.”