Prisoners with Disabilities: Individualization and Integration
Academy for Justice, A Report on Scholarship and Criminal Justice Reform, (Erik Luna ed.), 2017, Forthcoming
29 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2017 Last revised: 20 Apr 2017
Date Written: March 14, 2017
This paper's goal is to make and justify policy recommendations relating to individualization and integration for prisoners with disabilities.
A majority of American prisoners have at least one disability. So how jails and prisons deal with those prisoners' needs is central to institutional safety and humaneness, and to reentry success or failure. In this essay, I explain what current law requires of prison and jail officials, focusing on statutory and constitutional law mandating non-discrimination, accommodation, integration, and treatment. Jails and prisons have been very slow to learn the most general lesson of these strictures, which is that officials must individualize their assessment of and response to prisoners with disabilities. I make four recommendations to particularize the point. In addition, I look past current law to additional policies that could serve the goals of improving medical and mental health care for prisoners with disabilities. What is needed are programs that bridge the wall separating inside and outside of prison, with respect to record-keeping, personnel, and finances, which together have the potential to greatly improve care, and the lives and prospects, of prisoners with disabilities. I make five recommendations about how this should be achieved.
Keywords: prison, jail, disability, corrections
JEL Classification: K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation