Learning to read in prison stopped me committing crime, I want the same opportunity for others

By Chris Beare for inews.co.uk

It was my first day in Ashfield Young Offenders Institute near Bristol in 2003. I’d been locked up – at the age of 17 – for grievous bodily harm with intent and possession of a firearm, after assaulting a rival gang member in my hometown of Penzance, in west Cornwall.

There was a huge stack of unread paperwork in my cell including a copy of the daily timetable, legal correspondence and medical information. I had no idea what to do, as I couldn’t read and neither could my cell mate. This wasn’t the first time that my inability to read had caused me problems outside the classroom.

You have to fill out a form to do anything in jail, whether it’s getting a medical appointment, choosing a meal or speaking to your solicitor. And that’s pretty tricky for the 57 per cent of adult prisoners who have literacy levels below those expected of an 11-year-old.

Right now, I’m in Les Nicolles Prison on Guernsey after receiving a 19-year jail term for a drug importation in November 2019. This means I was interested to hear about the joint Ofsted and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons review of reading education in prisons, which was published at the end of March.

Read more here.

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