Disabling Solitary: An Anti-Carceral Critique of Canada's Solitary Confinement Litigation
The Legacies of Institututionalisation: Disability, Law and Policy in the 'Deinstitutionalised' Community, Claire Spivakovsky, Linda Steele and Penelope Weller, eds, Oxford Hart, Forthcoming
19 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2020
Date Written: 2020
The title of this chapter signifies at least three things. The first is the disabling effects of solitary confinement. The second is recent efforts of prison justice advocates in Canada to use law, or specifically litigation, to disable the logic of solitary confinement: to disrupt that logic through the logic of human rights. The third, most oblique reference, and one I develop here, speaks to dangers presented by the path Canada’s solitary confinement litigation has taken: a path of isolating disability-based prison justice claims from the wider ambitions of inter-sectional substantive equality. My thesis is that this isolation of disability (specifically, mental disorder/disability) as the organizing principle of solitary confinement’s legally-cognizable harms has paradoxically re-inscribed and reinforced disability injustice, and with it, an array of interactive forms of social–structural oppression — while ironically enabling the return of solitary confinement, if slightly re-described. What this means for lawyers wishing to work in resistance to penal and disability-based incarceration is a question I address in my conclusion.
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