Algerian prisons seek to educate

ANSAmed reports on the strategies of the Algerian Penitentiary Administration in seeking to educate its youthful detainees.

Algeria's population profile is youthful, and this is reflected in the prison population, in with 75 percent of prisoners are under the age of 30, according to the Director of the Penitentiary Administration, Mokhtar Felioune, who said the Ministry of Justice had a particular focus on young prisoners, to ensure they receive  ''the teaching and training necessary''.

The aim is to elevate 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. Felioune said, ''ignorance and scholastic dispersion are the main causes for delinquency''.

''Minimum'' measures adopted are proving to be quite effective. One mechanism awards the detainee if he reads a book. There are also other incentives, such as the possibility of receiving a presidential pardon, should they manage to obtain a diploma or even a degree during their time in prison.

The Algerian prison population is 58 000, of whom 800 are women. Over 15,000 of them are about to receive their marks for the studies they have carried out behind bars.

It is unclear whether pretrial detainees may also avail themselves of these opportunities.

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