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News for Researchers

Report Outlines Need for Accommodations for Inmates with Disabilities

June 22, 2016

As many as 31 percent of U.S. inmates in state prisons report having at least one disability. Inmates with disabilities often spend more time in prison, under harsher conditions, than inmates without disabilities. Today, the Amplifying Voices of Inmates with Disabilities (AVID) Prison Project (a project of Disability Rights Washington [DRW]) released the report, "Making Hard Time Harder". This report outlines the lack of accommodations for inmates with disabilities across 21 states.

The report includes case summaries in which essential mobility devices, such as wheelchairs and walkers, were taken from inmates. One case resulted in an inmates inability to access showers or the outside yard for almost two years. Other cases include inmates who are deaf or hard of hearing not being given access to video phones, and inmates with intellectual disabilities unable to access medical care due to their inability to fill out a written request for such care.

From individual assistance to large scale federal litigation, the case summaries in this report demonstrate the breadth and depth of work by protection and advocacy agencies (P&As) such as DRW, in our nations prisons, and demonstrate that despite the passage of the ADA over two decades ago, much state prison work remains to be done.

More case studies, videos, and the full report are available at, where original interviews with inmates with disabilities and experts on disability issues in correctional settings, can be accessed.

People are sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment. In drafting this report, we have found that inmates with disabilities are often neglected and excluded from programs, rehabilitation, and basic medical care, subjecting them to additional forms of punishment solely due to their disability.

More information:

Amplifying Voices of Inmates with Disabilities (AVID) Prison Project

Making Hard Time Harder: The online interactive report

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Disability Rights Washington

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