Discuss about the Criminal Law Concept of Intersectionality.
Concept of Intersectionality
Intersectionality is a sociological theory about how an individual faces multiple threats of discrimination under circumstance when their identities have common characteristics with minority of classes like gender, race, age, health, ethnicity and other characteristics. It is a feminist theory that commences from the premise that people live layered and multiple identities that is derive from history, social relations and the operation of power structure (Nowacki 2017). There are people who belong to several communities that are different from each other and they simultaneously experience privilege and oppression. For instance, a woman may be subjected to domestic violence yet be respected by medical professional. Intersectional analysis aims at addressing issues related to patriarchy, racism, class oppression and other discriminating systems leads to inequalities that forms the relative position of women. It considers social, political and historical contexts and recognizes distinctive experience faced by the individuals resulting from various forms of identity (Paik 2017).
Criminal Justice Contract of different populations
The phrase ‘culturally appropriate’ is usually used to define efforts made by institutions to communicate with a specific population by considering the cultural knowledge possessed by such specific population. The phrase in the context of criminal justice, refers to the following essential elements:
- it deals with the growing familiarity with the cultural knowledge and perspectives of certain populations;
- it further recognizes the blind spots of Western Culture;
In the absence of inadequate power, culture is often perceived as neutral, thereby allowing the oppression system such as homophobia, sexism, ageism, racism that initially motivates the need for cultural competence to wane into the background.
Aboriginals and Indigenous people
Intersectionality emphasizes on particular policies, laws and processes that have an adverse impact on the life experiences of people with respect to disadvantage and identity. The policy makers often disregard the needs and circumstances of the Aboriginal women, which may have an adverse impact upon the communities and families of the indigenous people.
In case of Royal Commission was established in 1989 subsequent to the deaths of 99 aboriginal people in prisons or in police custody between 1 Jan 1980 and 31 May 1989. Custodial deaths of aboriginals in large proportions, which often equals to the entire population, which is completely unacceptable and intolerable, had it taken place in the non-aboriginal community. This is because of over presentation of Aboriginal population in the custody as at the time of arrest, several aboriginals are arrested together.
This issue is responded through the Aboriginal Justice Agreements that aims at recognizing the impact of the Aboriginals when they are dispossessed of their traditional lands and when they are taken apart from children or families. It identifies the devastating consequences that are faced by the aboriginals. The Victoria’s Aboriginal Justice Agreements enable the aboriginals to have easy access to mainstream services and such services shall consider the needs of the Koori Community. It further provides early intervention techniques and provides measures for preventing crime.
Cognitive Impairments and Mental illness
An intellectual disability refers to significant restrictions of a person’s adaptive behavior and intellectual functioning. A mental illness is a health problem that affects how a person interacts and behaves with other people. A mental health problem also intervenes with the behavior and thoughts of a person but to an extent lesser than mental illness used as a reaction to the stress experienced by such persons.
People suffering from cognitive impairments and/or mental illness commit minor offence such as the shoplifting, nuisances, trespassing at a higher rate than the normal people who are not suffering from mental illness or mental health problem. The people who suffers from disability are often denied accommodation programs and specialist support at the time when they are considered unfit to respond to criminal charges with which they are charged. On the contrary, they are detained in psychiatric facilities or in prisons for indefinite period irrespective of te fact whether they have actually committed a crime or not.
As discussed above that there is overrepresentation of aboriginal people in the prison system of Australia. It is a well-known fact that police usually target people who are considered as usual suspects in everyday street encounters for petty offences, which also include women. While the aboriginal women make up approximately 3 percent of the total female population in Australia, a considerable portion of women population are incarcerated in Australia (Rios, Carney and Kelekay 2017). It is normal for several indigenous women who are locked up in the prisons for commission of minor offences, to be in and out of the gaol. These women are usually less educated and younger as compared to women belonging to non-indigenous community who usually are employed or have children. In addition, the indigenous group often lacks housing and support after releasing from prison, which further leads to reoffending. Consequently, they lack access to the justice system and the prevalence of aboriginal custodial deaths results in lack of trust in the policing system of the country.
However, overrepresentation of aboriginals and people with cognitive impairments and mental illness experience the lowest level of services and their needs are disregarded. Criminal justice systems and their institutions have become effective containers used for controlling and capturing specific part of populations and deal with their problematic behavior. Further, public policies have ignored the lives of indigenous women and people with cognitive impairment and such public policies usually have an adverse impact upon the lives of such people.
The value in engaging criminal justice from an intersectional point of view is that it enables to provide a better understanding of how several factors, which leads to oppression, operate synergistically. This would enable to differentiate between the aspects of criminal justice system that operates unfairly. The concept of intersectionality emphasizes on the particular policies and procedures including social, legal, that has an adverse impact on the life of people especially when such people have been subjected to inequality with respect to disadvantages and their identity.
Nowacki, J.S., 2017. An intersectional approach to race/ethnicity, sex, and age disparity in federal sentencing outcomes: An examination of policy across time periods. Criminology & Criminal Justice, 17(1), pp.97-116.law
Paik, L., 2017. Critical perspectives on intersectionality and criminology: Introduction.
Rios, V.M., Carney, N. and Kelekay, J., 2017. Ethnographies of Race, Crime, and Justice: Toward a Sociological Double-Consciousness. Annual Review of Sociology, (0).