Royal Commission releases fourth issues paper on Criminal Justice System
The Disability Royal Commission has released the issues paper for the fourth public hearing exploring the Criminal Justice System, set to begin 27 April 2020.
The Criminal justice system issues paper states that people with disability, including young people and First Nations people, are over-represented across the criminal justice systems in Australia and are at heightened risk of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.
The issues paper is calling for responses about prisons and forensic mental health facilities where forced treatment, seclusion (solitary confinement) and other restrictive practices, such as physical, chemical and mechanical restraints may be used.
Research suggests the following problems arise for people with disability in the criminal justice system:
- Systemic criminalisation of disability that results in their over-representation in the criminal justice system. Discriminatory attitudes of the community and law enforcement officers towards people with disability can influence their response to behaviours of concern. Other factors, such as prejudice, may also inform the response to behaviours of First Nations people or people with disability from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
- A lack of understanding of the rights of people with disability by those who work in the criminal justice system.
- A lack of cultural awareness and a lack of appropriate support and accommodation, such as accessible court rooms, video link testimony, and decision-making support, which may be needed to realise the right to a fair trial and the right to be treated fairly by the justice system.
- The limited availability of disability-aware legal assistance and services that are tailored to the needs of people with disability.
The Royal Commission wants to hear from you about why people with disability, and particularly First Nations people with disability, come into contact with the criminal justice system at disproportionately high rates.
The paper includes 9 questions to help people and organisations to provide responses. The Royal Commission encourages responses from individuals and organisations to the issues paper by 20 March 2020, although submissions will also be accepted after that date.
Detailed information on the Criminal Justice System Issues Paper and how to respond can be found on the Disability Royal Commission website.