People with disabilities are faced with several challenges in detention. These range from access to healthcare needed to manage a disability to an inability to receive support in daily activities such as eating, dressing and washing or to participate in rehabilitation activities.
At times, people living with physical disabilities in prisons are unable to participate in rehabilitative activities, lacking hearing aids, Braille documents or interpretation. In overcrowded facilities the impact of a disability is magnified, often with a complete lack of individualised care or attention. This means that time in prison for someone with a physical disability is disproportionately harsh.
A neuro-disability refers to neurodevelopmental conditions often beginning at childhood and persisting into adulthood. They can affect an individual’s ability to learn, participate and access information and services. Children affected by neuro-disability are over represented in criminal justice systems across the world. Procedural barriers, such as complexity, formality and rigidity of criminal justice processes may limit their right to a fair trial and understanding of conditions.
People with intellectual disabilities may need support with day-to-day tasks such as reading, writing or personal hygiene. In detention settings, people are often faced with new rules and structures and people with intellectual disabilities can find it hard to understand new situations and follow instructions.
As part of our 2020-2023 strategy we will advocate for international human rights standards protecting people with disabilities in conflict with the law. We aim to make detention a last resort and seek to ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are addressed if they are detained.
Rehabilitation and reintegration