While as much as 20% of the general population has been diagnosed with dyslexia, the learning disorder has been shown to present at a much higher rate in prisoners. Failure to screen and provide proper assistance to the afflicted prisoners is one of the top causes of recidivism.
Reading and comprehension are two of the most basic necessities required for living a quality life in our society. When one is unable to perform these tasks it has been shown that people suffer in many areas. Self-esteem, the ability to participate in and graduate from school, and attaining employment are areas that are highly affected when learning disorders such as dyslexia are left unchecked. Dyslexia is noted as being the top cause of illiteracy.
People with dyslexia usually possess high intelligence levels, but they learn in non-traditional ways due to the severe difficulty that their brains have in making a connection between words and sounds.
Research provided by the Rand Corp. reflected that creating and providing access to educational programs for the incarcerated population reduces recidivism significantly. They reported that 43% of those who take part in these learning environments while serving their time do not go on to commit further offenses, as they are able to more readily find jobs and fully participate in the community upon release.
In 2000, the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, who runs the biggest United States prison system, did a study of Texas inmates. They found that 1/2 of them were dyslexic, and 2/3 were unable to comprehend simple reading.
In 2014, the Department of Education surveyed inmates in 98 prisons. The data revealed that 1/3 of the inmates surveyed have trouble with basic reading and comprehension. Most prisons do not screen for or provide assistance to the prisoners who require intervention.
JFA Institute is a non-profit agency that works to improve criminal justice policies in all levels of government. They created risk assessment tools for 4 states to implement in their prison intake process regarding recidivism prevention and reported that it is not a laborious or time-consuming process.
On a federal level, President Trump signed the First Step Act to enforce the development and use of risk assessment tools for federal prison intake in an attempt to address recidivism. He stated, “Americans have always believed in the power of redemption—that those who have fallen can work toward brighter days ahead.”
The annual budget for implementation of the act over a period of 5 years would be $75 million. However, when submitted the proposal only provided for $14 million, not nearly enough for implementation. While the First Step Act would only affect federal prisons, it would set an example for the state prisons to begin to employ similar means in order to remove the roadblock to future success.
Considering factors such as the $34,000 average annual cost for housing prisoners, the difficulties inmates have living successful lives once released from prison, and the hopeless feeling that prisoners with dyslexia live with it benefits everyone to create a system where true rehabilitation can take place.
Education is one of the most crucial areas to address in order to make this goal a reality. Until the government stops turning a blind eye by failing to properly screen and assist inmates in state prisons it will remain a social and financial burden of devastating proportions.
If you need reentry in assistance Orange and surrounding counties contact The Law Offices of Lisa A. Kopelman, where you can obtain assistance with clearing your record, treatment and educational opportunities.