Troubling Law’s Indefinite Detention: Disability, the Carceral Body and Institutional Injustice

Publication Name

Social and Legal Studies


Through a case study of the official state representation of the institutional life course of one Indigenous Australian woman who is disabled, I demonstrate that across multiple jurisdictions, legal orders, service systems, material spaces and modes of intervention, law provides for the heightened carceral control of bodies on the basis of their designation as disabled. In being designated as disabled, bodies are positioned as necessarily and legitimately subjected to ongoing, persistent and multifarious control in a way paradigmatic of Foucault’s argument of the policed subject such that the disabled body itself is a carceral site. Moreover, the indefinite detention of disabled Indigenous persons on the basis of their disability builds upon and masks as ‘noncolonial’ settler colonial violence against Indigenous Australians. An analysis of how law orders, constructs and legitimates disabled carceral control troubles current understandings of indefinite detention, illuminates the limited notions of (in)justice that these understandings allow and provides new openings to acknowledging a fuller and more complex range of institutional injustices done to disabled offenders.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access





First Page


Last Page


Funding Sponsor

University of Wollongong



Link to publisher version (DOI)