Law and Neurodiversity
224 pages, 6 x 9
6 textboxes
Release Date:01 Jul 2020

Law and Neurodiversity

Youth with Autism and the Juvenile Justice Systems in Canada and the United States

UBC Press

As social perceptions of diversity become more nuanced, awareness of the prevalence of autism has grown. But how do we accommodate natural human neurodiversity within the juvenile justice system? And what are the consequences for young people?

Law and Neurodiversity offers invaluable guidance on how autism research can inform and improve juvenile justice policies in Canada and the United States. Both countries rely on decentralized systems of governance to craft and implement law and policy, but their treatment of detained youth with autism differs substantively. This perceptive book examines the history of institutionalization, the evolution of disability rights, and advances in juvenile justice that explicitly incorporate considerations of neurological difference into court practice. In Canada, the diversion of delinquent autistic youth away from formal processing has fostered community-based strategies for them under state authority in its place. US policies rely more heavily on formal responses, often employing detention in juvenile custody facilities. These differing approaches profoundly affect how crucial services such as education are delivered to youth on the autism spectrum.

Building on a rigorous exploration of how assessment tools, rehabilitation programs, and community re-entry plans differ between the two countries, Law and Neurodiversity offers a much-needed comparative analysis of autism and juvenile justice policies on both sides of the forty-ninth parallel.

Scholars and students of socio-legal studies, criminology, and disability studies will find this book essential reading, as will policy analysts and policymakers in juvenile justice and frontline workers working with autistic youth in the justice system.

Dana Lee Baker is an associate professor at California State University Channel Islands, in Ventura County. She is the author of The Politics of Neurodiversity: Why Public Policy Matters, co-author of Neuroethics in Higher Education Policy (with Brandon Leonard), and editor of Disability and U.S. Politics: Participation, Policy, and Controversy. Laurie A. Drapela is an associate professor of criminal justice at Washington State University Vancouver. Her work appears in Justice Quarterly, Crime & Delinquency, Prison Journal, Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Social Science Journal, Deviant Behavior, and Youth & Society. Whitney Littlefield is a juvenile probation counsellor at the Cowlitz County Youth Services Center in Longview, Washington. She previously served as a detention officer and in other capacities within the Washington State juvenile justice system and, in 2017, received the Cowlitz County Excellence in Service award for her work with youth and families.
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