According to a University of Pennsylvania law professor, efforts to combat systemic racism in the administration of justice must focus on the rights of the disabled community.
While race and disability are not often discussed in the criminal justice arena, their overlap plays a large role in law enforcement activities in vulnerable communities, writes Jasmine Harris in an article published in the Yale Law Journal.
Research shows that colored people, especially black people, come into contact with the police more often than white people. This is increased if the person has a disability.
According to the newspaper, 55 percent of black people with a disability are arrested before the age of 28. In addition, someone with an autism spectrum disorder is seven times more likely to interact with the police than someone without the disorder, the paper said.
“The discourse on the rights of people with disabilities has largely failed to take account of racism, and the discourse on anti-racism has largely failed to capture disability,” said researcher Dorothy Roberts, one of the sources cited in the paper.
“The disability and civil rights movements are often compared as two separate struggles that run parallel to each other, rather than struggles that have common components and problems, even when people of color and people with disabilities share a similar experience of marginalization and ‘othering’ and though there are colored people with disabilities. “
This means that the community as well as law enforcement agencies have implicit prejudices against people with disabilities and could react to the situation without properly addressing those disabilities.
“Racism and ableism work in a way that is mutually reinforcing and mutually reinforcing, and for color students the two do not exist separately,” Harris writes.
In her article, Harris describes how race and disability break down into three different sectors.
The first concerns the question of how people of color might be treated as disabled because of their race alone, and how they might face certain difficulties because of their race.
Harris describes the second sector as how biased law enforcement can have negative physical or mental health effects that lead to disability.
“Like disability, race should be viewed as a fluid and changing construct that is not limited to color but also to culture,” said Harris.
The third concerns how racially people with lifelong disabilities can have difficulty obtaining adequate health care and housing.
“Both are socially constructed categories manipulated by state and private actors to obtain sociopolitical and economic power by using the language of biological determinism for both categories,” Harris wrote.
Throughout history, the response of the community – especially the white community – to race and disability has shown that individuals who deviated from the “norms” of the community were not understood.
“Segregation and invisibility in both race and disability contexts were government-sponsored attempts to move and hide what society considered” ugly “or” disgusting “in order to allay whites’ fears,” noted the Newspaper stuck.
Harris notes that while law enforcement education and training is necessary, it must also cover what are known as aesthetic theories of disability in order to better address deeply ingrained prejudices that have persisted for decades.
“Early local ordinances known as ‘ugly laws’ regulated the visibility and movement of those wearing socially and politically disadvantaged signs – crime, poverty, physical or mental disabilities,” said Harris.
“The social model of disability alone does not address the reasons why, for example, police and officer training are unlikely to leave any significant dents in the sedimented prejudices that have shaped law enforcement agencies from the start,” Harris said, pointing out like a die aesthetic theory of disability could more thoroughly address structural racism within law enforcement agencies.
The paper also discusses the importance of standardized data on the intersection of disability and race for future research and understanding of the bias involved, but is difficult to access due to health laws that can restrict certain information about disabilities.
“The integration of race and disability should not mean the elimination of an identity; that is, any intersectional theory must view both race and disability theories as critical to understanding what happens to multiple marginalized individuals and groups, ”the paper says.
You can find the full report here.
Read more: 32% of state and federal prisoners, 40% of prison inmates report a disability
Emily Riley is a TCR writer.