Linda Steele, "Disability, Criminal Justice and Law: Reconsidering Court Diversion" (Routledge, 2020)


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With a focus on the court diversion of disabled people, Disability, Criminal Justice and Law: Reconsidering Court Diversion (Routledge 2020) undertakes a theoretical and empirical examination of how law is complicit in debilitating disabled people. In our post-institutionalisation era, diversion of disabled people from the court process is often assumed to be humane, therapeutic and socially just. However, in this work, Dr. Linda Steele draws on Foucauldian theory of biopolitics, critical legal and political theory, and critical disability theory to show that court diversion perpetuates oppression against disabled people. She shows how criminal law and mental health systems are complicit in the coercion and control of disabled bodies, of whom may not even be convicted. The normative function of court diversion is to reinforce boundaries which are at the core of jurisdiction, legal personhood and sovereignty. Steele critiques the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to show that it does not deal with the complexities of court diversion, suggesting that the CRPD is of limited use in its abilities to challenge carceral control and legal and settler colonial violence.

Dr. Linda Steele is a Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Technology, Sydney. She researches the intersections of disability, law and social justice. Prior to a career in academia, Dr. Steele was a solicitor with the Intellectual Disability Rights Service.

Jane Richards is a doctoral student at the University of Hong Kong. You can find her on twitter where she follows all things related to human rights and Hong Kong politics @JaneRichardsHK.

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