Reforms to Avoid

1. Reforms that replace policing and criminalization with mandatory social or health services.

  • Including those that replace imprisonment with other forms of incarceration, such as in a group home, nursing home, drug treatment facility, or hospital.
  • Including seemingly benign ones like check-ups that are used to surveil and gate-keep people from getting other services (like education and housing).

Mandatory social and health services are no less damaging than our systems of policing and cages. In these contexts, people who are Neurodivergent and/or living with disabilities are systematically abused and prevented from making decisions about our own lives.

2. Reforms that require compliance with medication or any kind of forced drugging to avoid incarceration/hospitalization or in order to get other services (like housing or Social Security benefits).

People who are Neurodivergent and/or Disabled are just as entitled to make decisions about what we eat and wear, where we live, and the medications and treatment we receive as anyone else. Forcing people to stay on medication or in treatment in order to access their survival needs is abusive and coercive.

3. Reforms that expand funding for mandatory services like psych hospitals or psychiatrization more broadly, or mandatory check-ups (by medical professionals, Child Protective Services, etc.).

These systems operate with the same level of power over and lack of accountability as policing. People who are targeted by these systems have few paths to justice or equity. All systems must be accountable to the people they serve.

4. Reforms that rely upon the usage of forced restraint or corporal punishment, such as tasers.

Ableism enforces the idea that people who are Neurodivergent and/or Disabled are inherently dangerous and should be subject to forced treatment, institutionalization, restraint and control. This is violent and coercive. In fact, people with disabilities are much more likely to suffer violence, and these practices only add to the violence they already endure.

5. Reforms that require registries, monitoring, or surveillance.

These systems position people who are Neurodivergent and/or Disabled as a crisis to be managed rather than as people who, like all people,  best thrive with supportive care systems. Surveillance and monitoring are seen as care; however, they provide the foundation by which people with disabilities are often criminalized later. For example, Disabled people are often penalized (including with monetary fines) for not keeping appointments or complying with treatment plans. Tracking systems enable carceral systems to more easily criminalize people with disabilities.

6. Reforms that rely upon the use of Mandatory Reporting

Mandatory reporting in the case of domestic violence has actually increased the amount of retaliation and violence against survivors. It also takes away survivors’ agency to determine if they want to go through a criminal legal system and entraps immigrant survivors into cooperating with ICE and the state. Similarly, mandatory and voluntary reporting and wellness checks on individuals experiencing suicidal ideation or non-normative behavior can result in additional harm through the medical and carceral systems they thereby become subject to. 

7. Reforms that rely upon the expansion of Adult Protective Services and Child Protective Services.

These agencies have basically no check on their powers and often target families with children or caregivers with disabilities. We know that Black and Indigenous families and other Families of Color; families with Queer and Trans caregivers; Immigrant, Migrant and Refugee families; and Poor Families have been specifically targeted for removal of children from the home. Mandatory reporting for Black and brown child sexual abuse survivors is a pipeline into the foster care system that rips communities and families apart and exposes children to equally abusive conditions as “wards of the state.”

8. Reforms that base eligibility for housing or other services on sobriety, medication compliance, not engaging in self-harm, or other restrictive criteria.

These kinds of eligibility criteria keep out the people who are most in need of care and life-sustaining resources. We need to respect people’s autonomy, coping mechanisms and survival strategies. 

9. Reforms that further isolate and segregate people.

Peoples with disabilities are often seen as a social problem to be isolated from society. Separating and isolating people as a way of “treating” them or addressing crises is a common approach that endangers vulnerable people and worsens the harms they face.