Inmates' university courses cost over €135,000
The taxpayer last year funded Open University courses to the tune of over €135,000 for prison inmates to study the likes of creative writing, art - and crime.
New figures provided by the Department of Justice confirm that the Irish Prison Service (IPS) last year spent £102,292 (€137,860) for 54 prisoners to sit Open University courses.
The spend, revealed in response to a Freedom of Information request, works out at an average outlay of €2,552 per person to take one of the courses.
It was part of a total outlay of €1.1m spent by the IPS last year on its prison education programme, which is seen as an important part of prisoners' rehabilitation.
As part of the programme, inmates can follow this year's Leaving Certificate English syllabus and study Shakespeare's 'Othello' and Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice'.
The €1.1m spend by the IPS on its education programme last year brings to €12.3m the amount spent on prison education programmes since 2006.
Of those taking Open University courses, the information provided shows that one of the courses taken by inmates last year was 'Crime and Justice' with others taking the 'Welfare, crime and society' course.
Inmates taking the 'Crime and Justice' course explore crime and justice in both global and local contexts "and in particular, the way that crime and justice are being continually redefined by global economic, social and political change".
Students learn about the impact of drug crime, cyber-crime, human trafficking, corporate crime, torture and genocide.
Other inmates are studying the 'You and Your Money' Open University course.
The Open University states that those taking the course will be able to make more informed decisions about their personal finances and it is a practical course that will develop students' financial skills and assist them in planning for their retirement. Prisoners already with a basic grasp of Spanish last year took 'Viento en pop: upper Intermediate Spanish'.
Those looking for a career in sport after they serve their time, last year studied 'Sport and Conditioning Science in Practice' and 'Working and Learning in Sport and Fitness'; while those interested in the arts had a myriad of courses to chose from. Meanwhile, the more business-oriented inmates took courses in 'Business functions in Context' and 'An Introduction to Business Studies'.