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Does prison deliver for prisoners with learning disabilities?

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Does prison deliver for prisoners with learning disabilities?

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  1. Does prison deliver for prisoners with learning disabilities? Presenters: Mark Perks, Natasha Cock, Nick Pape 29th October 2013

  2. Statistics • 2% of general population have a learning disability (Mencap, 2013) • 20 – 30% of offenders have learning difficulties and disabilities (No one knows , Louks, 2007) • 25% of prisoners have an IQ of less than 80. (Mottram, 2007) • 35% of adult offenders have speaking or listening skills below those expected of a competent 11 year old. (Davies et al, 2004)

  3. Definition of a learning disability • The term learning disability is a convenient label that would indicate that an individual may need additional support. • What can be unhelpful: • Rigid thinking regarding IQ levels and mental ages • Thinking that restricts a person to just their learning disability • Stigma of new label (what does it mean!)

  4. Case study – Gill’s experience • Set a 3 year tariff • Served well over twice his sentence

  5. Case Study - Nick’s experience • Going through prison • What helped • What didn’t help • What could be done differently

  6. “At first it was horrible. I couldn’t write to my family, I couldn’t fill the sheets in (visiting forms) so my family wouldn’t be able to visit and nobody explained it to me.” (Prisoners voices)

  7. Mencap’s View • Poor identification of learning disabilities in the criminal justice system • Learning disabilities are not identified early enough in the system and where this is identified it does not travel within the CJS • Learning disability screening questionnaires can be useful but with caution: • It creates a diagnostic tool for a non-clinical setting, • It can create stigma, • It is not clear how follow up then happens with prisoners

  8. Mencap’s View • Regular and specific learning disability awareness training should be provided for all prison staff • Training should include the wider issue of communication difficulties • Providing accessible communication is very important • There are significant health inequalities for prisoners with a learning disability that need to be addressed • Transitions of prisoners are often seen as transfersand the correct support is not in place

  9. Raising Your Game • Pilot project Mencap, ICAN and Nacro funded by the Big Lottery • Working with 14 – 25 year olds at risk of offending • Working in 6 regions across England • YOTs, YOIs, probation trusts, police, courts and educational settings.

  10. Communication issues • Safe answers • Reluctance to offer criticism • Level of language • Times and dates

  11. Questions for the future • How are staff being trained on learning disabilities and communication difficulties? • If a diagnostic tool is used, how will prisoners be supported if they find our they have a learning disability? • Are there varied and interesting educational courses accessible below a an IQ level of 80? • How accessible is all prison communication, including verbal and written?

  12. Questions for the future • How can transitions to life outside be improved for prisoners with a learning disability? • What is the cultural view of disabilities within the prison? • How to ensure the individual as a whole and their needs are understood?

  13. One last thing on communication If you get it right for someone with learning disability it will be right for everybody!

  14. Any Questions?