Because prisoners are not assessed for learning difficulties upon entry to HMPPS, we do not fully understand the number of prisoners with Special Educational Needs. However, research that has taken place over the past decade estimate that 60% of inmates have weak literacy skills and that 20% of this number are functionally illiterate.
Inability to enjoy a library book, access educational materials or read personal correspondence is a significant issue that further distances the prisoner from rehabilitation opportunities. In Dame Sally Coates’ 2016 review of prison education she described education as one of the “pillars of effective rehabilitation.” Education and training can have a profound impact on the lives of prisoners. Independent research conducted in seven HMPSS prisons has identified the unique potential of ScanningPens to support reading independence and facilitate equality of access to education. They have great potential to contribute to wellbeing, self esteem and potential for rehabilitation.
COVID has made providing educational services incredibly difficult for HMPPS, but it is possible to provide reading support with ReaderPen Secure. ScanningPens have been involved in prison research studies since 2017. In July 2020, the first prisoner was given permission to use a personal ReaderPen his cell. Reader Pen Secure is GDPR compliant and has no recording or memory functions. It has been designed with security in mind.