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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Overview

Increased numbers of foreign national inmates presents a huge challenge to prison staff.  Prison staff work very hard to maintain order under difficult circumstances, and language barriers can make it extremely difficult for them to communicate important information with the inmates they are responsible for, making their work even harder.  However, it can also have a negative effect on offenders’ knowledge of legal rights, or court cases, access to medical and psychiatric care, participation in work, education and training, contact with family and the outside world, and resettlement opportunities. (Femke Hofstee-van der Meulen, 2008).

A multi-lingual, inter-cultural learning programme that engages both foreign national offenders and prison staff might promote better and more effective communication, prevent unnecessary additional psychological and emotional stress, make life easier for prison staff and facilitate more effective rehabilitation.

In the long term, the project offers new vocational training opportunities for prison staff, whilst equipping offenders with the language skills, cultural empathy and self-reflection which contribute to better integration into society and the work force.