"Prisoners with Disabilities: Law and Policy"

Michigan Law Authors
Areas of Interest
Publish Date
Public Health Behind Bars — From Prisons to Communities
Publication Type
Book Chapter

A majority of people in custody in jail and prison have at least one disability. This chapter discusses the constitutional and statutory requirements applicable to their confinement, along with several reform proposals. It summarizes the law defining what constitutes a disability and what constitutes disability discrimination, looking in some detail at the requirements to avoid disparate treatment, grant reasonable modifications of policies and practices, communicate effectively, and integrate services for people with and without disabilities. Solitary confinement receives particular attention. Then, the chapter discusses implementation processes, including the need for ADA coordinators and for interactive processes that involve prisoners with disabilities in decision-making about their requests. Finally, the chapter urges several policy innovations related to record-keeping, personnel, and funding to improve the lives and prospects of prisoners with disabilities by integrating jail and prison health care with community health-care institutions.

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