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Publication Disabilities Among Prison and Jail Inmates, 2011–12

Jennifer Bronson, Ph.D., Laura M. Maruschak, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Marcus Berzofsky, Dr.P.H., RTI International

December 14, 2015    NCJ 249151

Presents the prevalence of disabilities among prison and jail inmates, detailing the prevalence of six specific disability types: hearing, vision, cognitive, ambulatory, self-care, and independent living. Important differences in each type of disability are highlighted by demographic characteristics. The report also assesses the prevalence of disabilities with other health problems, such as a current chronic condition, obesity, ever having an infectious disease, and past 30-day serious psychological distress. Findings are based on prison and jail inmate self-reported data from BJS;s 2011–12 National Inmate Survey (NIS-3). Data from the 2012 American Community Survey (ACS) and 2009–2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) were used to compare the incarcerated populations to the noninstitutionalized general population.

Highlights:

  • An estimated 32% of prisoners and 40% of jail inmates reported having at least one disability.
  • Prisoners were nearly 3 times more likely and jail inmates were more than 4 times more likely than the general population to report having at least one disability.
  • About 2 in 10 prisoners and 3 in 10 jail inmates reported having a cognitive disability, the most common reported disability in each population .
  • Female prisoners were more likely than male prisoners to report having a cognitive disability, but were equally likely to report having each of the other five disabilities.
  • Non-Hispanic white prisoners (37%) and prisoners of two or more races (42%) were more likely than non-Hispanic black prisoners (26%) to report having at least one disability.
  • More than half of prisoners (54%) and jail inmates (53%) with a disability reported a co-occurring chronic condition.

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National Inmate Survey (NIS)

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