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Title: The governance of adult defendants with autism through English criminal justice policy and criminal court practice
Author: Tidball, Marie
ISNI:       0000 0004 6499 6222
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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Foucault's 'governmentality approach' developed the notion of 'dividing practices' (1991; see Seddon 2007) which recognises that how individuals and groups are categorised determines how they are governed. This thesis draws on critical disability studies and criminological literature on 'doing justice to difference' to develop a disability perspective in criminology, in order to analyse the governance of offenders with autism. It argues that there is descriptive and normative value in proactively categorising these groups as 'disabled' under the 'social model' of disability. The social model of disability is helpful in enabling us to distinguish between impairment and disablement. It allows us to comprehend the 'psy' literature, which explores the link between the 'symptomatology' of autism and criminality (the 'impairment branch' of the distinction) in combination with the 'interconnecting variables' (Browning and Caulfield, 2011) which lead offenders with autism into the criminal justice system and their inequitable experiences (the 'disablement branch' of the distinction). This is timely given the entrenchment of this model in the Equality Act 2010 and the inception of the Autism Act 2009, Statutory Guidance (DOH, 2010; 2015) and related policy. Using cross-method triangulation of qualitative data collected through interviews with elites and practitioners, textual analysis and court observation of eight adult defendants with autism through their court process, this thesis investigates why the status of this group as disabled under the Equality Act 2010 has been overlooked in criminal justice policy and criminal court decision-making. It examines the extent to which policy-makers and criminal justice decision-makers consider the defendant's autism in their decision-making about the defendant's case in the courts. Finally, it examines the impact of 'collateral' effects of the criminal justice process on family members who supported these defendants.
Supervisor: Hoyle, Carolyn Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Criminology ; vulnerability ; Equality Act 2010 ; disability law ; criminal justice system ; autism