Special issue of Punishment & Society examines mental illness, intellectual disability and punishment

Monash criminologists Marie Segrave, Claire Spivakovsky and Anna Eriksson have jointly edited a special issue of the well respected journal Punishment & Society entitled ‘The maelstrom of punishment, mental illness, intellectual disability and cognitive impairment’. While the issue of mental health and its intersection with the criminal justice system has gained traction in recent years, there remains a limited examination of the full remit of offenders with disabilities and cognitive impairments in prison, and the ways in which punishment is utilised to respond, control and contain these individual’s lives.  The rising over-representation of individual’s with either/or both mental illness, disabilities or cognitive impairments in the criminal justice system and in prisons in particular, is a trend that is global. The aim of this special issue is to draw together original empirical research and theoretical interrogations of the practices and implications of punishment in all its forms as it is directed towards these populations. This issue of Punishment & Society brings together research that considers some of the specific practices/laws that seek to target individuals with  mental illnesses, disabilities or cognitive impairments to ‘treat’ them within and/or beyond the prison, in addition to empirical research and theoretical interrogations of the role and practice of imprisonment in confining and punishing people who have mental illnesses, disabilities and/or cognitive impairments. This will be an important and unique contribution to the field. The special issue examines the historical roots for this contemporary reliance on practices of punishment as a (often ineffective) mechanism for the social control of those whose behaviours are often poorly understood and/or who seem ‘out of control’, rather than systems or processes that seek first and foremost to correctly diagnose, treat and manage the cognitive dysfunction. The issue also aims to consider the implications, in real terms and theoretically, for how we understand the role of systems and institutions of punishment in contemporary society. 

The table of contents for the special issue can be viewed here.