Algeria: when the student is behind bars

75% of prisoners is under 30; courses and better prospects

17 May, 13:52

(ANSAmed) - TUNIS, MAY 17 - Algeria, from a demographic point of view, is an extremely young country, and confirmation of this comes also from the analysis of the prison population, with 75 percent of prisoners being below the age of 30. It is a huge percentage and at the same time very worrying because it is yet another sign of a social problem, which as everyday news reports, is increasingly stratified and to which answers from the State fail to arrive. And when they do, most often they are not the answers one was looking for.

The percentage of Algerian detainees under age 30 was given by the Director of the Penitentiary Administration, Mokhtar Felioune, who in any case said the Ministry of Justice did spend great attention towards the young prisoners, to which, he basically told, are not missing out on specific and targeted help in order to give them ''the teaching and training necessary'', when the level preceding that of their entry in jail is weak or even non-existent in the case of those illiterate.

In substance, the Algerian State is trying to bring the prisoners to a level of education superior to the level of their entry to prison, hoping to aid their insertion into society once out of the institution, but also presumably hoping that a higher cultural level might abstain them from committing crimes once back out into society, something which is extremely frequent for those who once out of jail do not have any other means to relieve them from committing crimes. On the other hand, Felioune said, ''ignorance and scholastic dispersion are the main causes for delinquency''.

The Algerian penitentiary administration, in order to try and stimulate the young detainees and accept education, have also initiated ''minimum'' measures which are proving to be quite effective. One, for example, is the mechanism which awards the detainee if he reads a book. There are also other incentives, like the actual possibility of receiving a presidential pardon, should they manage to obtain a diploma or even a degree during their permanence in jail. These are extremely important goals given the fact that in most cases the young delinquent has chosen to abandon school, preferring the street. Algeria, in this specific case is doing its best to the point that according to the Department of Penitentiary Administration, Algeria has the highest number of prisoners who obtain qualifications. At the moment 135,420 detainees are following instruction courses, 35,417 of which are to learn literacy, 95,632 are doing correspondence courses and 4,371 at a university level. Another element of satisfaction is that of the high results percentage of the prisoners who are following the courses and taking the exams. In this moment in Algeria the prison population is of 58 thousand, 800 of which are women. Over 15,000 of them are in these days about to receive their marks for the studies carried out behind bars.

(ANSAmed).

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