A few bits and pieces on prison and literacy:
81. Of the voluntary assessments undertaken by Corrections Victoria across all prisons in 2013, 59.5 per cent of prisoners had literacy levels requiring intensive support and 57 per cent had numeracy levels requiring intensive support 39. (39 Corrections Victoria, Fact Sheet LLN Results 2013, September 2014).
82. Corrections Victoria data suggests that the Year 12 completion rate of Victorian prisoners has varied between five and seven per cent in the past decade40. In contrast, the Year 12 (or equivalent) completion rate for all Victorians between 20-24 years of age in 2013 was 90.1 per cent41.
The Victorian Ombudsman. (2014). Investigation into the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners in Victoria. Discussion Paper, October 2014. Retrieved from https://www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au/getatt ... 4ba6abaf9/
.Prisoners and disadvantage
All prisoner demographic information confirms that prisoners, as a group, are significantly more disadvantaged than the general population. The description below by John Ryan MLC, Chair of the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into the Increase in Prisoner Population (2002) still applies generally:
The prison population consists of men and women who are, on average, of lower socioeconomic status, of poorer health and of lower levels of education than the rest of the population. For example:
· 60% of inmates are not functionally literate or numerate;
· 60% did not complete year 10;
· 64% have no stable family;
· 60% of males and 70% of females had a history of illicit drug use.
Indigenous men and women and those with an intellectual disability or a mental illness are significantly over represented. The majority of prisoners who pass through the prison system each year serve sentences of less than six months.
Baldry, E. (2008). The booming industry: Australian prisons. Submission to debate, October 2008. School of Social Sciences and International Studies, UNSW.
Of particular concern are approximately 80% of the males and 50% of the females whose results indicated level 1 or 2 literacy or numeracy. They are the most likely to have difficulty with text-based management systems, personal development programs, or education and training programs.
Searle, J., Schluter, C., & Cox, R. (2008). Literacy Unbarred: Investigating the literacy and numeracy levels of prisoners entering Queensland correctional centres. Griffith Institute for Educational Research, Griffith University. Retrieved from http://www.griffith.edu.au/__data/asset ... -08web.pdf
On June 30 2012, there were almost 30,000 people behind bars in Australia. 3 in 4 prison entrants have not studied past Year 10 and only 17% have completed Year 12.
Australian Institute for Health and Welfare. (2013). The health of Australia's prisoners 2012. Retrieved from http://www.aihw.gov.au/prisoner-health/
In 2001, DCS reported that 60 per cent of inmates at that time were not functionally literate or numerate (NSW Legislative Council, 2001, p. 20).
Grunseit, A, Forell, S & McCarron, E 2008, Taking justice into custody: the legal needs of prisoners. Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Sydney (2008). Retrieved from http://www.lawfoundation.net.au/ljf/app ... CB4F8.htmlEducation
Many prisoners have low levels of educational attainment and had irregular school attendance all of which impacts on their ability to obtain and maintain employment post-release. For Indigenous prisoners, educational attainment is even lower, further compounding social and economic disadvantage.
The average school leaving age for people in prison in 2009 was 15 years.8
60% of prisoners are considered functionally illiterate or innumerate.4
73% of Aboriginal male prisoners and 60% of Aboriginal female prisoners left school before Year 10.7
43% of non-Aboriginal male prisoners and 39% non-Aboriginal female prisoners left school before Year 10.7
Community Restorative Centre (no date). Retrieved from http://www.crcnsw.org.au/resources/statistics
4 Baldry, E. et. al. (2003) Ex-prisoners & accommodation: What bearings do different forms of housing have on social reintegration for ex-prisoners, Position paper 27, AHURI, Sydney: UNSW & UWS Research Centre.
Meanwhile, back in the USA:
70 percent of the prison population falls into the two lowest levels of reading proficiency.
National Institute for Literacy. (1998). Fast facts on literacy &fact sheet on correctional education.Literacy statistics and juvenile court
· 85 percent of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate.
· More than 60 percent of all prison inmates are functionally illiterate.
· Penal institution records show that inmates have a 16% chance of returning to prison if they receive literacy help, as opposed to 70% who receive no help. This equates to taxpayer costs of $25,000 per year per inmate and nearly double that amount for juvenile offenders.
· Illiteracy and crime are closely related. The Department of Justice states, "The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure." Over 70% of inmates in America's prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level.http://www.begintoread.com/research/lit ... erently%29The Literacy Skills of Inmates
About 7 in 10 prisoners perform in Levels 1 and 2 on the prose, document, and quantitative scales. These prisoners are apt to experience difficulty in performing tasks that require them to integrate or synthesize information from complex or lengthy texts or to perform quantitative tasks that involve two or more sequential operations and that require the individual to set up the problem
The average proficiencies of the prison population are 246 on the prose scale, 240 on the document scale, and 236 on the quantitative scale. Their proficiencies are substantially lower than those of the household population, whose proficiencies average 273 on the prose scale, 267 on the document scale, and 271 on the quantitative scale
The racial/ethnic composition and educational attainment of the prison population differ from those of the household population. About 65 percent of prisoners are minorities versus 24 percent of the household population. About 51 percent of prisoners have completed at least high school or its equivalent, compared with 76 percent of the household population. These differences in demographic composition help to explain the lower average performance of inmates as compared with householders
Educational attainment is highly related to literacy proficiency. Prisoners who have not received a high school diploma or GED demonstrate lower levels of proficiency than those who have completed high school, earned a GED, or received some postsecondary education.
Male and female prisoners do not perform differently from each other on the literacy scales. Both male and female prisoners demonstrate lower proficiencies on all three scales than their household counterparts.
National Center for Education Statistics. (1994). Literacy behind prison walls. U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Research and Improvement. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/naal/prison_lit.asp