Disability in French Prisons

How Does the Situation Differ from That of the General Population?
By Aline Désesquelles, Catriona Dutreuilh


In 2001, an extension of the “HID” disability and dependency survey was conducted on a sample of almost 1,300 prisoners in France. One prisoner in two has at least one disability. The frequency of mental disability is particularly high. For a similar age and sex structure, the prevalence of physical disabilities is almost three times higher among prisoners than among the general population. This difference is the result of two effects that are difficult to dissociate: a selection effect at entry into prison and a detention effect. For example, among prisoners serving long sentences, after controlling for age, the time already spent in prison is significantly correlated with the presence of disabilities.
Prisoners with disabilities are likely to need assistance, be it human help, technical aids or cell adaptations. 8% of prisoners have such needs. Need of assistance is particularly frequent among prisoners with motor impairments, but also among prisoners who are often older, who all suffer from a sensory impairment and who also often have several types of impairment.

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