Ras Al Khaimah Prison Project
The Al Qasimi Foundation launched the Ras Al Khaimah Prison Project in 2011 to establish a new library at the Ras Al Khaimah Correctional Facility that would benefit inmates and prison officers alike. This ongoing community outreach initiative serves two primary functions: to provide access to educational and recreational resources and to create a dedicated, flexible learning space for prison activities. The Al Qasimi Foundation works heavily in cooperation with prison directors and inmate volunteers to run the library space and oversee its day-to-day operations. Inmates use the library under prison guard supervision, and inmates volunteering as prison block foremen or librarians act as links back to the broader prison population. The Ras Al Khaimah community may also become involved with the initiative through donating books and resources or volunteering to lead workshops.
Vision & Goals
There is a large research base demonstrating the impact education plays on reducing crime—both as an overall preventative measure and as a means for rehabilitating offenders (Dillon & Colling, 2010; Machim, Marie, & Vujić, 2011). The Ras Al Khaimah Prison Project therefore seeks to create a multi-purpose learning space that is accessible to anyone regardless of his/her gender, age, nationality, or educational background in order to:
- Foster continued academic, professional, and social development opportunities for inmates. It also provides similar opportunities for prison officers, as many have only attained basic educations themselves.
- Improve literacy, restore confidence, and contribute to the overall rehabilitation of inmates and professional development of prison officers.
- Provide concrete skill development training to help inmates reintegrate into society in constructive ways upon their release, either in the United Arab Emirates or their respective countries of origin.
The Ras Al Khaimah prison library houses over 1,300 educational and recreational books, magazines, and newspapers in 16 different languages. In its first several months of operation, nearly 25% of all inmates visited the library and accessed its resources (this included men and women from over 20 different countries). Other indications of the project’s early impact:
- Library visitations have increased as awareness about the learning space and its available resources has grown.
- There is significant demand for skill development courses and workshops, as demonstrated through interviews with inmates and workshop application forms. English language and computer literacy are among the most popular topics requested.
- The library was used to host the prison’s Literary Competitions during Ramadan, which include written tests, story writing competitions, and Quran and poetry recitations. The competitions demonstrated the value of the library’s multi-purpose nature and made full use of the facility’s projector, laptops, whiteboards, and study tables and chairs.
- Inmate behavior has noticeably changed as a result of the library’s establishment and operation. The prison librarian (also an inmate) noted that many prisoners and officers have modified their daily routines to allow time to visit the library. He said the inmates especially appreciate the new library activities that are now part of prison life. In addition, the prison’s Director of Rehabilitation and Training has said the library presents hope to inmates who may be anxious about reintegrating into society after their release.
Dillon, L., & Colling, K. (2010). Effectiveness of written materials in a rehabilitative program for female offenders: A case study at the Montana women's prison. Journal of Correctional Education, 61(4), 335-347. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.aus.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/871418249?accountid=16946
Machin, S., Marie, O., & Vujić, S. (2011). The crime reducing effect of education. The Economic Journal, 121(522), 463–484. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0297.2011.02430.x