'The Distant Ships of Liberty': Why Criminology Needs to Take Seriously International Human Rights Laws that Apply to Persons with Disabilities
26 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2015
Date Written: November 17, 2015
Persons institutionalized in forensic psychiatric facilities have been hidden from the public view for decades – physically, socially, and legally. The forensic population also faces multiple forms of discrimination, both for their criminal history and mental illness. This reality must be radically reconsidered in light of the ratification of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the first legally binding instrument devoted to the comprehensive protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. There has been, however, virtually no attention paid by criminologists to the potential impact of this Convention on forensic populations. In this paper, we will highlight some of the key issues that must be examined in this context, and examine the issues in question through the lens of therapeutic jurisprudence. We will focus, in part, on the lack of attorneys and advocates who represent this population, the lack of attention paid to this issue by the “psychiatric survivor” movement, and the special problems faced by forensic patients who are intellectually disabled. Additionally, we will explore social attitudes towards forensic patients, the reasons why this population is often left behind as new paradigms in mental health and human rights continue to emerge, and why is it essential that criminologists begin to take this issue seriously.
Keywords: forensic facilities, criminology, international human rights, counsel, therapeutic jurisprudence
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