Disabling Justice - Why the system fails people with disability and mental illness
The significant over-representation of people with disability and mental illness in prisons represents a failure in providing appropriate supports, early intervention and alternative pathways, said panelists at a forum on disability in the justice system held at RMIT University on Friday, 1 March 2019.
Panelists at the forum, a partnership between the Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) and the Future Social Service Institute (FSSI), called on the audience to take the opportunity to make submissions to the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System and upcoming Royal Commission into violence and abuse of people with disability on issues relating to people with disability and mental health issues in the justice system.
The panel, introduced by Professor Paul Ramcharan, Deputy Director Research Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University and moderated by Public Advocate Colleen Pearce, featured:
- Disability rights campaigner, Mr Justen Thomas, speaking on his experience and learnings as a person with a disability in the criminal justice system.
- Ombudsman Victoria, Ms Deborah Glass OBE, on her recent report, Investigation into the imprisonment of a woman found unfit to stand trial
- Director, Centre for Innovative Justice, RMIT University, Mr. Rob Hulls, on therapeutic justice
People with cognitive disability and mental illness are significantly over represented in the criminal justice system. Research has found:
- 40 per cent of Victorian prisoners have a mental health condition - two to three times higher than community rates
- they are 10 to 15 times more likely to have a psychotic disorder
- three per cent have a registered intellectual disability compared to one per cent in the community
- rates of acquired brain injury are up to 20 times higher among prisoners compared to the general community.
Further information and resources
Watch Justen's video of his experience as a teenager with intellectual disability in the juvenile justice system.
From left: Disability rights campaigner Justen Thomas, Associate Professor Paul Ramcharan (Deputy Director Research Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University), Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass, Victorian Public Advocate Colleen Pearce, Rob Hulls (Director, Centre for Innovative Justice, RMIT University)