Is Dyslexia More Prevalent Among People in Prison?
Date:  05-05-2019

First Step Act requires federal prisons to test for dyslexia but state prisons are not compelled to do so
From Mother Jones:

Growing up, Ameer Baraka dreaded spelling tests. On Fridays, when his class took them, he would often skip school and hide in the hallways of the New Orleans housing project where he lived. Other parts of school made him miserable, too—the way his classmates would point and laugh when his teacher would ask him to read a passage aloud and he couldn’t make out the words, his palms sweating from the stress of it. By sixth grade, he’d had enough, and he decided he would drop out and start selling cocaine. At the age of 23, he landed in prison for a drug offense.

By that time, Baraka was still only at a third-grade reading level. His fellow inmates were no better off: Only one man in his intake group had a high school diploma. Baraka wouldn’t find out until later that he had dyslexia, a reading disorder that affects an estimated 15 percent of the general population and likely an even higher proportion of inmates—many of whom were not diagnosed in school and later dropped out.

No national studies have been done to show the prevalence of dyslexia among prisoners, but the little research that exists at the state level suggests the rates are quite high: A 2000 study of Texas prisoners found that about half were likely dyslexic, and about two-thirds struggled with reading comprehension. A 2014 study by the Education Department found that about a third of incarcerated people surveyed at 98 prisons struggled to pick out basic information while reading simple texts. Still, most prisons historically haven’t conducted widespread screenings for dyslexia—making it hard for prisoners with the reading disorder to make up lost ground while they’re behind bars. Continue reading >>>