1,000+ with cognitive disability detained each year
“Is the justice system being used as a de facto disability service, one that proceeds by punitive rather than therapeutic measures?” That was one of the questions posed by Senior Counsel Assisting Dr Kerri Mellifont on the opening day of two weeks of hearings by the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability into the experiences of people with cognitive disability in the criminal justice system.
The focus has been broadly welcomed, however, the First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN) has said that the over-representation of First Nations People with cognitive disability in the criminal justice system – acknowledged by Commission Chair Ronald Sackville in his opening remarks – warrants its own dedicated First Nations hearing. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability are 14 times more likely to be imprisoned with one-third reporting a disability, 50% reporting a history of psychosocial disability, and 25–30% of prisoners having an intellectual disability, said FPDN CEO Damian Griffis in a statement.
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