Using the ADA's 'Integration Mandate' to Disrupt Mass Incarceration
96 Denver Law Review 917 (2019 Forthcoming)
39 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2019 Last revised: 23 Oct 2019
Date Written: July 22, 2019
As a result of the disability rights movement's fight for the development of community-based services, the percentage of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and mental illness living in institutions has significantly decreased over the last few decades. However, in part because of government failure to invest properly in community-based services required for a successful transition from institutions, individuals with disabilities are now dramatically overrepresented in jails and prisons. The Americans with Disabilities Act's (ADA) "integration mandate" -- a principle strengthened by the Supreme Court's 1999 Olmstead v. L.C. decision, entitling individuals with disabilities to receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs -- may provide one avenue to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline and overrepresentation of people with I/DD and mental illness in prisons and jails. In this Article, we explore how the federal government and private parties have used--and are beginning to use in new ways -- the integration mandate to advocate for the rights of individuals with disabilities to receive the supports they need to thrive in the community and avoid unnecessary entanglement with the criminal justice system.
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