Liat Ben-MosheMar 12, 2021
Deinstitutionalization and Prison Abolition
University of Minnesota Press 2020
Prison abolition and decarceration are increasingly debated, but it is often without taking into account the largest exodus of people from carceral facilities in the twentieth century: the closure of disability institutions and psychiatric hospitals. Decarcerating Disability (2020, University of Minnesota Press) provides a much-needed corrective, combining a genealogy of deinstitutionalization with critiques of the current prison system.
Liat Ben-Moshe (https://www.liatbenmoshe.com/) provides groundbreaking case studies that show how abolition is not an unattainable goal but rather a reality, and how it plays out in different arenas of incarceration—antipsychiatry, the field of intellectual disabilities, and the fight against the prison-industrial complex. Ben-Moshe discusses a range of topics, including why deinstitutionalization is often wrongly blamed for the rise in incarceration; who resists decarceration and deinstitutionalization, and the coalitions opposing such resistance; and how understanding deinstitutionalization as a form of residential integration makes visible intersections with racial desegregation. By connecting deinstitutionalization with prison abolition, Decarcerating Disability also illuminates some of the limitations of disability rights and inclusion discourses, as well as tactics such as litigation, in securing freedom.
Decarcerating Disability’s rich analysis of lived experience, history, and culture helps to chart a way out of a failing system of incarceration.
C.J. Valasek is a Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology & Science Studies at the University of California San Diego.