Marginalising the marginalised: social processes that contribute to the dis-abling of prisoners with intellectual disability
Wacquant’s (1996; 2008) concept of “advanced marginality” depicts socio-economic processes, state policies, and stigmatisation as instruments of marginalisation of specific populations who become socially fragmented and politically invisible. Similarly, Fassin (2015) argued that prisons in France are full of individuals who experience a double-vulnerability: they exist in circumstances leading to greater probabilities of incarceration in a judicial system that is unevenly applied across racial and social classes. We consider whether imprisonment is a form of social control and containment of a specifically vulnerable sector of the Australian population: prisoners with intellectual disability who constitute (conservatively) 9–10% of the Australian prison population. Considering that the global prison population exceeds 10.2 million individuals (Walmsley, 2013), understanding intellectual disability is crucial to planning appropriate screening and care from incarceration through to post-release, for equity within judicial systems, and social justice. Our study aimed to understand the perspectives of prisoners with ID and the individuals who support them. Our methodology included desktop reviews of available literature on this group, investigation of the construction of the label “intellectual disability”, eliciting life experiences of ex-prisoners, and accounts of transition out of prisons. We are concerned with the production of marginality within research and practice related to this vulnerable subset of the prison population and with the place of prisons within a social order that marginalizes individuals with ID.