Accommodating Disabilities in Jails and Prisons

  • R. Samuel Paz

In 1990, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an optimistic and comprehensive civil rights law intended to provide equal opportunity in employment and public life to individuals living with physical and mental disabilities. Title I addresses discrimination in employment; Title II guarantees disabled persons equal access to state services and programs, an assurance that the rights these programs fulfill will be protected; and Title III mandates “reasonable accommodation” to the needs of the disabled in public facilities. The federal statute includes both a prohibition against discrimination against disabled persons and a provision for redress. Legislators recognized that without the prospect of “effective enforcement provisions,” the states would be unlikely to move into compliance with the new legislation.

The ADA began with the principle that its purpose is enforcement of the Fourteenth Amendment’s command that “all persons similarly situated should be treated alike.” The Supreme Court observed that classifications based on disability violate that constitutional command if they lack a rational relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose. If an entity’s policies and practices discriminate against a plaintiff because he or she was mentally or physically disabled and in need of services and programs which are available, then the policies of the entity treat the plaintiff differently.


Disable Person Mental Disability Justice Statistics Public Entity County Jail 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Samuel Paz
    • 1
  1. 1.Loyola Law SchoolCulver CityUSA

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