Can you understand this injustice, can you sit by
Voices not heard
People with learning difficulties or disabilities do not get their voices heard. I have an unseen disability, dyslexia, and a low IQ of 65, this is indicative of mild mental retardation or mild learning disability. This means I find it hard to communicate or express myself and I also have language difficulties, it is hard for me to take information and hold it in my memory.
People with learning difficulties are more likely to have medical conditions related to anxiety, depression and mood disorders. We also have a high level of suicide. To the prison system people like me are labelled as ‘bad’ or ‘manipulative’ or other negatives, but we find it harder to follow rules and our emotional levels are higher, we usually end up in the block. I believe that having this disability has shaped my life. From a young age I was in a school for kids with learning difficulties and behavioural problems – now I’m in the criminal justice system there is not much for someone like me to do. My IQ level means I cannot be considered for offending behaviour courses, which means I will spend much longer in prison.
There are only 3 prisons that run a TC (Therapeutic Community) Plus, which is a 3 year programme for people with low IQ and learning difficulties. The first one has been running at HMP Dovegate for around 2 years, so we still don’t know if the programme works as nobody has completed it yet. If you would like more information on learning disabilities contact the Prison Reform Trust and ask for their report on people in prison with learning difficulties written by Jenny Talbot.