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Spacing access to justice: geographical perspectives on disabled people's interactions with the criminal justice system as victims of crime

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Abstract

Over the past two decades, research emerging from the sub-discipline of ‘geographies of disability’ has highlighted the significant socio-spatial barriers that shape disabled people's everyday lives. Disabled people's battles to obtain equitable access through the justice system when they are victims of crime is one such arena in which these barriers become readily apparent, and yet to date, geographers' engagement with the spaces of the criminal justice system has been noticeably absent. This paper seeks to redress this lacuna by discussing the findings of qualitative research undertaken in Ireland on disabled people's experiences of the criminal justice system as victims of crime. It highlights not just how the justice system presents practical barriers to disabled people such as inaccessible courthouses or Garda stations, but also the fundamental ways in which legislation constitutes certain groups of disabled people as vulnerable or incapable, and therefore ‘out-of-place’ in the justice system. The paper makes a case for building disciplinary connections between geographies of disability, geographies of crime and ‘critical legal geographies’ in rendering these barriers visible.

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