Prison Education in Aotearoa New Zealand: From Justice to Corrections

  • Nesta Devine


This article considers the changes in policy discourse relating to education in prisons, in the New Zealand context, in the period between the 1950s and the early 21st century. The earlier belief in education as a means to rehabilitation has been replaced by a narrow focus on programmes specifically intended to change the criminal behaviour for which the prisoner has been sentenced. But even these programmes are hard to get into, and available only to selected prison inmates after they have served two thirds of their sentences. Informal education, including physical education and vocational education, have been severely retrenched, as have all forms of work and activity. In this paper I argue that this situation is a logical outcome of the neoliberal construction of education as a private rather than a social or public good, of the reconceptualisation of the public service as an agency of its principal, the party or parties in power. The depersonalising of the inmates of prisons as “prisoners” serves to justify this situation at the same time as it validates the “freedom” of those who conform to social and legal expectations.


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Author Biography

Nesta Devine
How to Cite
DEVINE, Nesta. Prison Education in Aotearoa New Zealand: From Justice to Corrections. The New Zealand Annual Review of Education, [S.l.], n. 16, july 2006. ISSN 1178-3311. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 28 oct. 2020. doi:


Educational Policy and Administration