For the past three decades, the Council of Europe (COE) Recommendations on Prison Education (1989) have provided the principal point of reference and generally accepted standards for custodial education services. The COEs Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1950) stated that “no person shall be denied the right to education”, while the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners) proclaimed that “All prisoners shall have the right to take part in cultural activities and education aimed at the full development of the human personality” (United nations, 1990, Resolution 45/111: No 6). These rights were reiterated by The European Prison Rules in promoting “access to educational programmes which are as comprehensive as possible and which meet their individual needs while taking into account their aspirations” (COE, 2006, 28.1). Furthermore, the European Commission’s Charter of Fundamental Rights recognised that “everyone has the right to education” (COE, 2007). Given the time lapse since these publications, EuroPris proposed the establishment of the Expert Group on prison education to consider a review of the COE (1989) recommendations. In addition to reviewing the original recommendations, the report by the Expert Group would simultaneously consider some of the principal developments in justice over the past three decades that have impacted on contemporary European prison education policy.
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