People with Disabilities – their involvement in the Criminal Justice System
Is there a link between having a disability and being involved in the criminal justice system? Yes
Is it because criminality is an inherent symptom of any disability? No
However, what is known is that those with disabilities, particularly mental disorders, are over-represented within the criminal justice system (Mayes, 2003), and rates of mental health issues are at least three times higher for those who enter the criminal justice system prior to adulthood than those of the general population (Hagell, 2002)
Individuals with ASDs are seven times more likely to experience contact with the criminal justice sector than the general population (Debbaudt, 2004)p116 The Prevalence and Treatment of People with Asperger’s Syndrome in the Criminal Justice System - Browning and Caulfield 2011
[This paper]… “presents evidence from Australia and overseas that demonstrates that high proportions (some 50% in Australian studies) of young offenders have a clinically significant, but previously undetected, oral language disorder.” Youth (in)justice: Oral language competence in early life and risk for engagement in antisocial behaviour in adolescence (Pamela Snow and Martine Powell 2012)
Studies show that at least 25% of prisoners in the United States have ADHD. The recidivism rate among all felons is high, and an estimated two thirds are rearrested within about 3 years. These statistics have important implications for society at large. ADHD and Crime: Considering the Connections Joel L. Young, MD 2011
Mental Health Problems Cognitive Disabilities Autism Spectrum Disorder Language Disorder ADHD
Several studies have shown crime and education are inextricably tied together and that factors like level of achievement in school, student grade retention, school attendance, and graduation rates are related to criminal activity.
Putnins (1999) maintained there is a general agreement in the research literature that delinquency is associated with poor educational achievement, particularly poor literacy. The author stated that this relationship has become so widely accepted that there is a belief that literacy problems are widespread among offenders and that literacy deficits are a major cause of crime. Crime Can be Prevented if Schools Teach Juvenile Offenders to Read James S. Vacca 2008
Several theories have emerged to explain the overrepresentation of youth with disabilities in correctional and detention facilities (Fink,1990; Leone & Meisel, 1997). These include school failure, susceptibility, differential treatment, and metacognitive deficits.
The school failure theory (Osher, Woodruff, & Sims, 2002; Post,1981) asserts that learning, emotional/behavioral, and intellectual disabilities lead either directly to school failure or transactionally to school problems and failure causing negative self-image, which in turn leads to school dropout, suspension, and delinquency. Youth With Disabilities in Juvenile Corrections: A National Survey (Quinn, Rutherford, Leone, Osher, Poirer)
“Held Back” Report - Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission 2012 “Programs for Students with Special Learning Needs” Victorian Auditor General’s Office 2012
Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (‘DEECD’) most common respondent to discrimination complaints and enquiries in the last five years (Disability Discrimination Legal Service) Education issues the most common complaints made to disability advocacy organisations (Disability Advocacy Victoria)
Attitude/Training/Resources ◦ Students with disabilities often require resources that schools don’t have, and that DEECD does not provide, so they are not welcome ◦ Students with disabilities often require expertise that teachers don’t have, and that DEECD does not provide, resulting in ongoing problems, so they are not welcome
Guidance ◦ There is no requirement for teachers to use any particular programs. DEECD policies and procedures require “evidence-based interventions” but teachers and principals do not know what these are. ◦ The lack of guidance covers both academic practices (e.g. which literacy and numeracy remedial programs have an evidence base)and disability practices(e.g. what are evidence-based interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorder)
Autonomy ◦ Principals can run their school in any manner they please. Training ◦ There is no across the board training in: how to write Individual Education Plans; who to contact when faced with challenging behaviours; how to run a Student Support Group
Restraint and seclusion commonly used in Victorian schools to address challenging behaviours, resulting in trauma and worsening behaviours.
What are the findings (“Held Back” Report 2012)? Educators and parents reported restraint and seclusion of students-many educators reported that they were inadequately trained to deal with the situation.
There is no independent oversight or monitoring of the use of seclusion and restraint in Victorian schools. There is no official data on how frequently these practices occur in schools, why they are used or their impacts.
Both the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (2012) and the Office of the Public Advocate (2013) have recommended that the Department Of Education hand over its regulation of restrictive practices to the Office of the Senior Practitioner. Recommendation – refused.
‘What research does exist indicates that, for the majority of those patients who have been secluded or restrained, it was not beneficial and in fact was a noxious experience.’
‘The use of seclusion and restraint on persons with mental health and/or addictive disorders has resulted in deaths and serious physical injury and psychological trauma.’ School is Not Supposed to Hurt: Investigative Report on Abusive Restraint and Seclusion in Schools
Psychological and psychiatric organizations have come to realize that restraint and seclusion are harmful to children. While some psychological effects may be short-term, such as fear and adrenaline rush, constant physical confrontation may lead to long-term effects such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Eliminating the Use of Restraint and Seclusion Against Students with Disabilities Nishimura, Christine Florick, (2011)
A study asking students to draw pictures of their seclusion indicated that they saw it as a form of punishment. The pictures showed students crying and calling for help.
Disability ↘ Violence against the child ↘ Mental Health Problems ↘ Crime
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