Sunday, August 14, 2005

There are parts of the UK which are yet 19th century -- criminalizing the defective

BBC NEWS | Health | Tourette's children 'given asbos'

This is not the first time I've come across examples of this. The UK's legal system has some curious aspects to it; in particular certain legacies of the 19th century. One of those legacies is a very backwards approach to children with cognitive disabilities. They seem to be fairly readily shunted into the a kind of 19th century, or perhaps medieval, justice system:
In one case, a 12-year-old autistic boy was punished for staring over his neighbour's fence; another boy with Tourette's Syndrome was given his order for constantly swearing.

Because Asbos are regarded as civil matters, they are dealt with by an adult court, rather than by a justice panel especially designed for children.

This means that if the children breach their Asbos they do not have the same rights to social and mental health reports as 'criminal' juveniles (aged up to 17)...

... Julie Spencer-Cingoz, chief executive of Bibic and a trained psychiatric nurse, said children were being criminalised because of their medical conditions.

"It is a little like saying to somebody who has epilepsy 'do not fit'. And then when they do fit saying that they have broken their contract.

"You would not do that, and yet we are applying the same conditions to children with other medical conditions.
I'm not used to thinking of the US as being at all 'progressive', but in matters of disability we made such enormous progress under Bush I and Clinton that not even Bush II has been quite able to utterly undo it.