Christiana Stilianidou
Education in prisons – The Anagnopoulos case
20 • 03 • 2020

Mr. Anagnopoulos, a prisoner and student, went on a hunger strike following the rejection of his request for leave with electronic supervision to attend classes at his school. According to the Initiative for the Rights of Prisoners, the restriction of the rights of student prisoners and in particular their right to education are a recurring issue.

Education is a universal fundamental right, enshrined in both the Constitution and through supranational provisions, and is not dependent on the legal status of an individual. Therefore, access to education is a right of prisoners, as well as being a powerful tool for reducing repeat offending and contributing to social reintegration (see more on this 1, 2, 3 ).

Access to education for prisoners is a right provided for by Articles 35, 54 and 58 of the Penitentiary Code, Ministerial Decision No. 29809 (Government Gazette B 1368/03.07.2015) and Presidential Decree 62/2014, amongst others.

The Initiative for the Rights of Prisoners states: “Recently, we have seen continuous violations of the rights of prisoners and students; essentially an attack on the right of prisoners to education, through the use of various excuses and obstacles on the part of the Korydallos prison council and the relevant Ministry.”

Where is the problem with the rule of law?

The imposition of a penal sentence serves specific purposes, which includes rehabilitation and reintegration into society. Whilst the individual is deprived of their right to liberty, the state still has an obligation to ensure the effective exercise and protection of their other rights, such as the right to education. In a state governed by the rule of law, therefore, state authorities must respect and ensure the rights of prisoners, without prisoners having to fight for the rights they are entitled to.

In this case, the prisoner Anagnopoulos went on a hunger strike, endangering his life, in order to secure his right to education. This followed the rejection of his application for educational leave under electronic surveillance, which resulted in him missing classes that formed part of his course. According to the Initiative for the Rights of Prisoners, the rights of prisoners in general but especially to education, appear to be under constant attack in recent years.

Christiana Stilianidou
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