Community forensic disability service provision to people with cognitive disability and complex needs in the criminal justice system is overwhelmingly considered to provide to extremely marginalised individuals an alternative to imprisonment and a pathway to disability services, as well as having the added benefit of enhanced social inclusion.
I argue that the criminal law helps to shape the spaces and relationships that structure community forensic disability service provision. These legal contours of service provision inadvertently provide additional possibilities for criminalisation and social marginalisation of people with cognitive disability in the criminal justice system. These legal contours might serve to limit the realisation by services of social inclusion objectives for their clients.
I will support my arguments with data on individuals with cognitive disabilities and ‘complex needs’ in the criminal justice system which is drawn from a large dataset created in an ARC Linkage Project: ‘People with mental health disorders and cognitive disabilities in the NSW criminal justice system’ led by researchers at UNSW. I will discuss the role of reporting obligations relating to bail, probation and diversion, the use of AVOs in group home settings and the significance of civil mental health laws and guardianship laws.