Author Carlo Gebler has spent nearly three decades working in the Northern Ireland prison system as a teacher of creative writing.
He’s been in all the prisons there – including the notorious Maze/Long Kesh H-Blocks – and has done everything from basic literacy to high end literature; letters to victims to Open University essays. As many of the prisoners Carlo has worked with in their cells would testify, he’s spent a long time inside.
Now Carlo wants to know if prison arts and education made any difference to the lives of those he taught. He meets the inmates attending classes in the education and skills section of HMP Magilligan on Northern Ireland’s north coast. He visits his former boss who each day would tell him his job was not to teach, but to be a human being. He catches up with some of the former prisoners he worked with over many years and finds out what they’re doing now.
Looking back at the protocols and practices which characterised his prison work, Carlo asks about the true potential of arts and education when it comes to punishment and rehabilitation.