Abstract: In 2013, and again in 2014, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has recommended that Australia abolish its existing mental health laws which authorise involuntary treatment and detention, and replace them with a regime of supported decision-making. The Australian Law Reform Commission has also recommended the introduction of supported decision-making to replace mental health and guardianship laws. This paper critically evaluates the concepts of autonomy and discrimination and the social model of disability which provide the theoretical underpinning of the CRPD. Focussing on coercive treatment of adults with severe mental illness under Queensland’s Mental Health Act 2000, it then evaluates the advantages and disadvantages of supported decision-making, and concludes that the proposed abolition of involuntary treatment laws is not justified.
Abstract: Adequate cognitive and emotional capacity is essential to autonomous decision making by adult medical patients. Society often attaches legal consequences to decisional capacity evaluations. Even when the legal system is not formally involved in the competency evaluation of a particular individual, clinical practice and ethical conduct occur within and are informed by legal parameters. Using relevant statutory, court rule, and judicial opinion examples from a representative jurisdiction within the United States, this article argues that the law seldom provides much meaningful guidance to health care and human services providers to assist them regarding the content of capacity evaluation. The article concludes by asking how society ought to respond to the paucity of helpful guidance provided by the law in the decisional capacity evaluation context.
Abstract: “Why workers’ rights are not women’s rights” is an argument whose purpose is to make clear why workers’ rights rest on a masculine embodiment of the labor subject and it is this masculine embodiment which is at the center of employment contracts and employment relations systems. By excavating the gender subjects implicit to and explicit in regulations of labor, the paper reveals the opposition of paired terms, masculinity and femininity privileging production over reproduction and naturalizing gender-based power relations. The paper identifies various laboring activities associated with differential rights and responsibilities. An examination of the treatment of part-time employment and waged caring labor, framed in labor, welfare, immigration, and citizenship policies and practices, locates exclusions from labor standards and exemptions from entitlements due to eligibility requirements and thresholds that assume the masculine embodiment of the worker-citizen. Gendering the analysis illustrates how contemporary labor laws and conventions grant rights on the basis of, and to, a rather abstract conception of the prototypical worker-citizen. Its origins lie in what classical political economy labeled a capitalist logic, as well as the historical practices in which free class agents entered into contracts for continuous, full-time work free of care responsibilities outside of the wage/labor nexus. Thus, it is this particular abstract construction of the proto-typical worker which instantiates the separation of “rights to” from “responsibilities for”, and it is this separation that allows the masculine embodiment of the labor subject. Modes of regulation privileging rights over responsibilities will valorize the masculine worker-citizen whose rights derive from their participation in wage labor and simultaneously devalue the feminine worker who is directly connected to caring labor.
Abstract: Neuroscientific endeavours to uncover the causes of severe mental impairments may be viewed as supporting arguments for capacity-based mental health laws that enable compulsory detention and treatment. This article explores the tensions between clinical, human rights and legal concepts of “capacity”. It is argued that capacity-based mental health laws, rather than providing a progressive approach to law reform, may simply reinforce presumptions that those with mental impairments completely lack decision-making capacity and thereby should not be afforded legal capacity. A better approach may be to shift the current focus on notions of capacity to socio-economic obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Abstract: Recently, a political shift has been observed, in that some political conservatives are now advocating, adjusting, or abandoning draconian drug laws, including mandatory minimums, and funding diversion, re-entry, and drug programs. Vocal proponents of this movement include Grover Norquist, Rand Paul, Edwin Meese, and Mark Levin, from the Texas Public Policy Council. Any movement away from the mass incarceration that has characterized the U.S. correctional policy for the last 30 years is welcomed; however, it is important to note carefully the philosophical foundation of the conservative’s interest in shifting correctional policy. This paper explores the potential factors contributing to this philosophical shift.
Abstract: USP Marion is the first supermax federal penitentiary. Marionization refers to the experimental control program used at this prison. The prisoners speaking in this article suffered many years of solitary confinement. This research brief discusses some of what they experienced in their own words. These are the recollections of a few Marion prisoners that have summoned the courage to speak out and share their darkest memories.