SRV In the News: Disabled inmates denied crucial access, judge says
This article from the San Francisco Chronicle, details the trouble that inmates of county jails in California have had in gaining access to basic aids for their physical impairments. According to the district judge interviewed in the article, prisoners have been denied access to canes, wheelchairs, sign language interpreters and telephone-assistance devices. The judge claims that prisoners “crawled or limped in pain to hearings and meetings in county jails”.
Firstly, it appears that because of their devalued status, the inmates of county jails in California receive abusive treatment from jail officials. This touches on the issue of heightened vulnerability that I’ve written about several times (including here). While being a prisoner or having physical impairments are by themselves devaluing, both conditions together leaves one even more susceptible to wounding and devaluation.
Secondly, being at a heightened vulnerability for wounding and devaluation places one dangerously at risk of falling into a negative role circularity, a phenomenon discussed in the theme of SRV, referred to as “The Power of Role Expectancies and Role Circularity in Deviancy-Making and Deviancy-Unmaking” (Wolfensberger, 1998). Here we can already see the slide into devalued roles such as criminal, prison inmate, and disabled person. Along with a slide into devalued roles, prison is also a place where most of one’s previous valued roles can be stripped (i.e. role destruction), making role descent (as opposed to role ascent) even more likely.
Below are several other stories that highlight the vulnerability of disabled prisoners.
From Australia: Disabled man in jail isolation
From British Columbia: Justice system struggles to deal with fetal alcohol disorder
From Oregon: State sued over prisoner’s death
In: Uncategorized · Tagged with: devaluation, disability, heightened vulnerability, news media, prison, role circularity, Social Role Valorization, SRV