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Addressing the Literacy Needs of Offenders Under Probation Supervision

NCJ Number
G Davis; B Caddick; K Lyon; L Doling; J Hasler; A Webster; M Reed; K Ford
Date Published
118 pages
Research was conducted over an 8-month period between December 1995 and July 1996 in which 53 of 55 probation services in England and Wales participated to help probation services focus attention on literacy needs of offenders they supervised.
The first stage of research involved the use of two different survey techniques, a postal questionnaire and a semistructured telephone interview. The second stage of research involved a more detailed examination of the literacy work of probation services in 11 selected regions. Findings revealed the provision of literacy assessment and support was unsystematic and varied significantly within and between probation services. Minimal efforts had been made to assess the overall scope of literacy problems, to identify individual offenders with literacy needs, and to develop a comprehensive and consistently applied framework for screening and assessing literacy needs. Few probation services employed their own literacy specialists and instead used partnership arrangements. Many probation services said no attempt was made to monitor or evaluate the effectiveness of procedures for identifying offenders with literacy deficiencies. The authors conclude a more systematic approach to literacy is required, one that clarifies the role of probation services in dealing with literacy problems. Suggestions are made for changes in probation officer training to improve the coverage of literacy issues. Additional information on the research findings is appended. References and tables