Ableism is discrimination against people with disabilities, including the expression of hate for people with disabilities, denial of accessibility, rejection of disable applicants for housing and jobs, and institutionalized discrimination in the form of benefits systems designed to keep people with disabilities in poverty (“What is Ableism,” 2010). Throughout the years, people with disabilities have faced the act of oppression. Before the 1800’s, people with disabilities were perceived as evil and possessed by the devil or were being punished for a prior sin. Consequently, the people with disabilities were cast aside, left to died, or were tortured and killed (“History of Ableism,” n.d.). During the 1800’s the shift in advances in the field of science changed the American’s views. As a result, disabled people were hidden away in family homes, mental institutions or schools for the blind or deaf and if they were not hidden, they worked as performers in traveling circuses (“Ableism,” n.d.). The Civil Rights movement of the 1960s helps bring attention to the rights of people with disabilities. However, Ableism is still a current problem in today society. Many people continue to treat people with disabilities as they are not smart and capable as non-disable people (“Ableism,” n.d.). In the following, Ableism will be discussed. In addition, Ableism will be examined from the context of how they are perceived in society at large, viewed in the criminal justice system, represented in society, effects the views have on the criminal justice process, victims of crime are served, and oppression relating to violence.
People with disabilities are viewed by society with a negative attitude. Disable people continue to face many challenges in their lives and these challenges usually involve people’s attitudes (Aiden & McCarthy, 2014). In terms of education, children with disabilities are integrated into the same classrooms in 43 percent of countries and in 40 percent of countries, they are in the same schools but not the same classrooms (Brink, 2016). In terms of employment, only 18 percent of 193 constitutions guarantee the right of people with disabilities to work and the goals for countries should be to guarantee the rights of persons with disabilities to work in an environment that is open, inclusive, and accessible (Brink, 2016). In the health care system, only 26 percent of 193 constitutions explicitly guarantee the right to health to people with disabilities (Brink, 2016).
Approximately 24% of disabled people have experienced attitudes or behaviors where other people expected less of them because of their disability (Aiden & McCarthy, 2014). People lack a general knowledge about disability and disabled people’s needs and it is one of the main reason why the population displays negative attitudes toward disabled people. The negative views can be avoided if they are more opportunities for disabled people and people who are not disabled to have positive interactions and emboldening more positive representations of disability and disabled people in the media.
People with disabilities are viewed in the criminal justice system is ever since deinstitutionalization, widespread closure of state mental hospitals and other instructional facilities that serve people with disabilities, many disabled people began to reside into the criminal justice system. Thus, federal and state jails and prisons are now home to three times as many people with mental health conditions as state mental hospitals (Vallas, 2016). Mass incarceration of people with disabilities is unethical and they are likely to become victims of police violence. For instance, Robert Ethan Saylor. Saylor was a 26-year-old man with Down syndrome who was killed in a struggle with three off-duty county sheriff’s deputies at a movie theater (Editorial Board, 2013). His aide went to get the car, leaving Saylor alone and theater employees told him to get out. Saylor refused, and the deputies handcuffed on his stomach on ground and Saylor went into distress and died. The medical examiner stated that it a homicide by asphyxiation. The American Civil Liberties Union supports eliminating the usage of the United States’ jail and prison systems to keep people with mental and physical disabilities (“Disability and CJ,” 2018). Instead, they encourage the criminal justice system to identify and work with a person’s disability in rehabilitative efforts. A criminal record for a person with disability poses a greater obstacle for them since they already face barriers to employment, stable housing, and elements of economic security.
In the criminal justice system, disabled people are overrepresented in the United States’s prison and jails. The Bureau and Justice Statistics depicted that people behind bars in state and federal prisons are nearly three times as likely to report having a disability as the non-incarcerated population, while those in jails are more than four times as likely (Vallas, 2016). Moreover, incarcerating someone with disability cost more than a community-based treatment and prevention services (Vallas, 2016). Usually, people with disabilities who are incarcerated are underprivileged of necessary medical care, supports, services, and accommodations and poor conditions in jails and prisons lead to further physical and health problems in the future. On the contrary, disabled are still underrepresented on television. In television and movies, people with disabilities are portrayed as the villain, the victim or the source of entertainment and have been a common source of material for comedians (“Ableism,” n.d.). In the last 20 years, there has been an incline of positive representations of people with disabilities in movies and television shows (“Ableism,” n.d.).
People with intellectual, cognitive, or developmental disabilities get involved as both victims and suspects more often than individuals without disabilities (Davis, 2009). People with disabilities are vulnerable to victimization due to impaired cognitive abilities, lack of knowledge on how to protect themselves, and living and working in high-risk environments. People with intellectual disabilities crime understates the criminal victimization problem because they are labeled as abuse or neglect. Therefore, Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), funded two grantees under the Multidisciplinary Responses to Crime Victims with Disabilities cooperative agreement to replicate their innovative models for improving the quality of services provided to crime victims with disabilities, increasing their access to the criminal justice system, and helping to track the number of crimes against persons with disabilities (“Office for Victims of Crime,” 2012). Some common ways individuals with disabilities become suspects are they do not understand their rights but pretend to understand, try to run away, and be the first to leave the scene of the crime, and the first to get caught.
Oppression is related to violence because violence has always been an important element in the origin and maintenance of oppression. Hence, individuals with disabilities are described as vulnerable because they are exposed to a higher incidence of violence when compared to the population average. Generally speaking, people with disabilities are misunderstood and are not treated right because there is a lack of understanding about disability. Thus, to eliminate these barriers, people should be educated about disabled people and make opportunities for everyday interactions. If these factors changed people interactions with individuals with disabilities, then the way they are treated in the criminal justice system will change and instead of incarcerating people with disabilities, opting for rehabilitative programs will benefit the people with disabilities.