Inaccessible justice: exploring the barriers to justice and fairness for disabled people accused of a crime

Gormley, C. and Watson, N. (2021) Inaccessible justice: exploring the barriers to justice and fairness for disabled people accused of a crime. Howard Journal of Crime and Justice, 60(4), pp. 493-510. (doi: 10.1111/hojo.12433)

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Drawing on in-depth qualitative interviews with 15 people who have learning disabilities, brain injuries, neurodiversity, or mental health conditions accused of a crime in Scotland, this article offers substantive and methodological insights to unpacking perceptions of justice accessibility. We explore barriers to participation in pretrial justice processes for disabled accused people, demonstrating that disabled people are systematically denied a voice and disadvantaged by poor identification and recognition of impairment, insufficient supports or adjustments, and inaccessible information. We discuss participants’ accounts of feeling excluded from, and intimidated by, systems and decisions that are not routinely explained in accessible terms, which, in turn, adversely impacts access to justice and perceptions of fairness. Informed by criminology and disability studies, we argue that the failure of criminal justice systems and practices to acknowledge disability as an equality issue creates disabling barriers that serve to further marginalise disabled people within justice settings.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Watson, Professor Nicholas and Gormley, Dr Caitlin
Authors: Gormley, C., and Watson, N.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Social Scientists working in Health and Wellbeing
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Journal Name:Howard Journal of Crime and Justice
ISSN (Online):2059-1101
Published Online:13 July 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in Howard Journal of Crime and Justice 60(4): 493-510
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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