RELIGIOUS EDUCATION FOR PRISONERS IN ROMANIA
Keywords:Religious education “syllabus”, principles of ethics, prisoners, Romania.
AbstractUNO’s Resolution of May 14, 1990 recommends that prisoners have access to education, i.e. to basic education, creative activities, cultural activities, higher education, library facilities, literacy programmes, physical education and sports, religious education/instruction and training (through activities such as Bible studies, church attendance, holy day observances, religious counselling, religious/theological education classes, retreats, scriptural study groups, worship and prayer services, etc. carried out by chaplains, ministers, or religious volunteers), social education, and vocational training. Religious practice, no matter the form, can help prisoners adapt/adjust (i.e. coping or avoiding trouble) to prison life, lowers recidivism rates and ensures post-release success (prisoner re-entry or social reinsertion) – given that religion can change cognitive approaches to conflict, emphasize accountability and responsibility, provide social support and social skills through interaction with religious people and communities, and target antisocial values. In this context, religious education/guidance/teaching is, together with cultural activities, discussion groups, leisure activities, literacy classes, and sports activities, part of any social rehabilitation plan. Based on field work experience – counselling prisoners (both teenagers and adults) in Romanian penitentiaries – the authors propose a religious education “syllabus” based on the principles of ethics: the principle of respect for autonomy or of human dignity (respecting the decisions made by other people concerning their own lives), the principle of beneficence (bringing about good in all our actions), the principle of non-maleficence (not harming others), and the principle of justice (providing others with whatever they are owed or deserve).
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