Diversion of individuals with disability from the criminal justice system: control inside or outside criminal law?
The past two decades have witnessed across Anglo-American jurisdictions increased scholarly, government and disability rights advocacy interest in issues relating to individuals with cognitive impairment and mental illness ('individuals with disability') in the criminal justice system. These issues include the over-representation in the criminal justice system (including police contact, courts and prisons) and the difficulties encountered in participating in court proceedings, the vulnerability in prison, the lack of appropriate mental health and disability support services in the community and in prison, and the overuse of remand and non-custodial orders. Diversion from the criminal justice system into disability and mental health services has been identified in a number of Anglo-American jurisdictions as a strategy for addressing the issues facing individuals with disability in the criminal justice system. Diversion of individuals with disability from the criminal justice system involves redirecting an individual off the assumed criminal justice trajectory of charge, trial, conviction and punishment and out of criminal justice spaces such as court and prison, and onto an alternative trajectory of individual therapeutic interventions aimed at addressing matters at the nexus of an individual's disability and offending and into alternative spaces of community-based mental health and disability services.
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