Literacy Behind Bars: Results From the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy Prison Survey
The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) included the first assessment of the English literacy of incarcerated adults since 1992. The assessment was administered to approximately 1,200 adults (age 16 and older) incarcerated in state and federal prisons, as well as approximately 18,000 adults living in households. Three types of literacy were measured: Prose, Document, and Quantitative. Results were reported in terms of scale scores (on a 500-point scale) and four literacy levels—Below Basic, Basic, Intermediate, and Proficient. The findings in this report—Literacy Behind Bars—indicate the changes in literacy among incarcerated adults between 1992 and 2003. The report also compares the literacy of adults in the prison and household populations and across groups of prison inmates with different characteristics, including race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, age, language spoken before starting school, and parents’ educational attainment. The report looks at the relationship between literacy, education, and job training, including traditional academic education, vocational education, and skill certification. Additionally, the report examines the relationship between literacy and experiences in prison other than education, including prison work assignments, library use, computer use, and reading frequency. Finally, the report looks at the relationship between literacy, criminal history, and current offense. The results show how the relationship between literacy, type of offense, expected length of incarceration, expected date of release, and previous criminal history has changed since 1992.