Korryn Gaines and the Criminalization of Disabilities – [prospect.org] – In the immediate backlash over her death from the wider black community and activists, The Washington Post reported that Gaines might have suffered from lead poisoning as a child, which can lead to cognitive and behavioral disabilities. She also appeared to be suffering from some sort of mental breakdown in the months leading up to her death.
A new study released in July asserts that the criminal justice system discriminates against people with mental disabilities, putting them at more risk of being shot by police or incarcerated. A Center for American Progress report, “Disabled Behind Bars: The Mass Incarceration of People With Disabilities in America’s Jails and Prisons,” argues that there are a disproportionate number of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities living in low-income communities of color. These neighborhoods have higher rates of encounters with police than higher-income communities.
According to the center’s report, 7 to 10 percent of all police interactions involve people with mental health issues. Police departments in larger jurisdictions report that their officers interact with six people in psychiatric distress per month. Because police officers are often the de facto first responders, many individuals have suffered at the hands of police because of misunderstandings about certain types of behavior that arise. A Ruderman Family Foundation study found that people with disabilities make up one-third to one-half of all individuals killed by police.
Moreover, once behind bars, disabled people are more at risk of being mistreated by jail officials