Through theoretical and empirical examination of legal frameworks for court diversion, this book interrogates law’s complicity in the debilitation of disabled people.

In a post-deinstitutionalisation era, diverting disabled people from criminal justice systems and into mental health and disability services is considered therapeutic, humane and socially just. Yet, by drawing on Foucauldian theory of biopolitics, critical legal and political theory and critical disability theory, Steele argues that court diversion continues disability oppression. It can facilitate criminalisation, control and punishment of disabled people who are not sentenced and might not even be convicted of any criminal offences. On a broader level, court diversion contributes to the longstanding phenomenon of disability-specific coercive intervention, legitimates prison incarceration and shores up the boundaries of foundational legal concepts at the core of jurisdiction, legal personhood and sovereignty. Steele shows that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities cannot respond to the complexities of court diversion, suggesting the CRPD is of limited use in contesting carceral control and legal and settler colonial violence. The book not only offers new ways to understand relationships between disability, criminal justice and law; it also proposes theoretical and practical strategies that contribute to the development of a wider re-imagining of a more progressive and just socio-legal order.

The book will be of interest to scholars and students of disability law, criminal law, medical law, socio-legal studies, disability studies, social work and criminology. It will also be of interest to disability, prisoner and social justice activists.

chapter |22 pages


Reconsidering court diversion

chapter 1|23 pages

Introducing court diversion

chapter 2|28 pages

Problematising court diversion

chapter 3|23 pages

Theorising court diversion


chapter 4|22 pages

Theorising court diversion

Carcerality and legality

chapter 5|30 pages

The finer details of debilitation through law

Introduction to an Australian diversion scheme

chapter 7|34 pages

Choosing carceral control

chapter 8|22 pages

Disability, criminal justice and law

Beyond court diversion

chapter |8 pages