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Decarcerating Disability

Deinstitutionalization and Prison Abolition

2020
Author:

Liat Ben-Moshe

Decarcerating Disability

This vital addition to carceral, prison, and disability studies draws important new links between deinstitutionalization and decarceration


Liat Ben-Moshe provides case studies that show how prison abolition is not an unattainable goal but rather a reality, and how it plays out in different arenas of incarceration—antipsychiatry, the field of intellectual disabilities, and the fight against the prison-industrial complex. Her analysis of lived experience, history, and culture charts a way out of a failing system of incarceration.

Prison abolition and decarceration are increasingly debated, but it is often without taking into account the largest exodus of people from carceral facilities in the twentieth century: the closure of disability institutions and psychiatric hospitals. Decarcerating Disabilityprovides a much-needed corrective, combining a genealogy of deinstitutionalization with critiques of the current prison system.

 

Liat Ben-Moshe provides groundbreaking case studies that show how abolition is not an unattainable goal but rather a reality, and how it plays out in different arenas of incarceration—antipsychiatry, the field of intellectual disabilities, and the fight against the prison-industrial complex. Ben-Moshe discusses a range of topics, including why deinstitutionalization is often wrongly blamed for the rise in incarceration; who resists decarceration and deinstitutionalization, and the coalitions opposing such resistance; and how understanding deinstitutionalization as a form of residential integration makes visible intersections with racial desegregation. By connecting deinstitutionalization with prison abolition, Decarcerating Disabilityalso illuminates some of the limitations of disability rights and inclusion discourses, as well as tactics such as litigation, in securing freedom.

 

Decarcerating Disability’s rich analysis of lived experience, history, and culture helps to chart a way out of a failing system of incarceration.

Decarcerating Disability

Liat Ben-Moshe is assistant professor of criminology, law, and justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is coeditor of Disability Incarcerated: Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada.


Decarcerating Disability

Contents


List of Abbreviations


Introduction: The Case for Intersecting Disability, Imprisonment, and Deinstitutionalization


1. The Perfect Storm: Origin Stories of Deinstitutionalization


2. Abolition in Deinstitutionalization: Normalization and the Myth of Mental Illness


3. Abolition as Knowledge and Ways of Unknowing


4. Why Prisons Are Not “the New Asylums”


5. Resistance to Inclusion and Community Living: NIMBY, Desegregation, and Race-Ability


6. Political and Affective Economies of Closing Carceral Enclosures


7. Institutional and Prison Reform Litigation: From Politicization to the Governable Iron Cage


Epilogue: Abolition Now


Acknowledgments


Notes


Index