An estimated 32 percent of state and federal prisoners and 40 percent of local jail inmates reported having at least one disability in a survey of inmates taken in 2011 and 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reported today. Disabilities include six specific classifications: hearing, vision, cognitive, ambulatory, self-care and independent living. A cognitive disability, which is defined as serious difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions, was the most common disability reported by prison and jail inmates. An estimated 19 percent of prisoners and 31 percent of jail inmates reported having a cognitive disability. An ambulatory disability was the second most common reported disability, with 10 percent of inmates reporting difficulty walking or climbing stairs.
Prisoners were about three times more likely and jail inmates were about four times more likely than the general population to report a disability. Compared to the general population, prisoners were about four times more likely and jail inmates were about 6.5 times more likely to report a cognitive disability. Female prisoners were more likely than male prisoners to report having a disability. Among prisoners with a disability, 54 percent reported a co-occurring chronic condition, and 32 percent reported ever having had an infectious disease, including tuberculosis, hepatitis B, hepatitis C or a sexually transmitted infection (excluding HIV). Twenty-five 25 percent of prisoners with a disability reported serious psychological distress during the past 30 days, and 31 percent were obese.