Book launch and panel discussion focuses on disability and incarceration

September 15, 2014 | Events, News, UToday, — Languages, Literature and Social Sciences, — Social Justice and Human Service
By Samantha Watson

For a person with disabilities, incarceration of any form — not just prisons and jails — can cause a lot of problems.

Disability Incarcerated book coverThat’s the focus of the book Disability Incarcerated, co-edited by Dr. Liat Ben-Moshe, a University of Toledo assistant professor of disability studies. A book launch will be held Wednesday, Sept. 17, at 5 p.m. in Libbey Hall, followed by a panel discussion. Drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be provided.

“We wanted to expand the definition of what incarceration is,” Ben-Moshe said of the book. “People are not just placed in prisons and denied rights, living opportunities, and decision-making power over their own lives. There is a variety of places that do the same thing.”

The book, according to Ben-Moshe, seeks to broaden the definition of incarceration as it relates to those with disabilities. It considers not just prisons and jails, but psychiatric hospitals, institutions, nursing homes and more.

It then looks at the effects these types of places have on individuals with disabilities. Ben-Moshe said that they look not only at disabilities that are defined by doctors, but any kind of difference.

“There is a variety of ways that disability can manifest itself in these settings,” she said. “Not all of them can be labeled by a doctor.”

Ben-Moshe also explained that even individuals who don’t have a disability when they become incarcerated may develop one. She said this is especially true with Supermax prisons, where prisoners often spend 23 hours each day without interaction with others.

“You basically live in a closet for 23 hours a day,” Ben-Moshe said. “It’s supposed to be a disciplinary thing that lasts for 30 or 60 days depending on the place, but, unfortunately, it has become a widespread phenomenon where people live there for decades.”

Ben-Moshe worked with co-editors Dr. Chris Chapman, assistant professor of social work at York University in Toronto, and Dr. Allison Carey, associate professor of sociology at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, to publish the book earlier this year. It is made up of 14 chapters written by interdisciplinary authors.

The book also features a foreword by Angela Davis, an American political activist, scholar and author. It can be purchased online or at the book launch for $25.

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