Decriminalizing Disability – Ensuring Equal Access to Justice

The National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability is being developed to assist in ensuring that individuals with disabilities have access to justice not only as survivors, but as those accused of crimes. As a community we need to work together to collaborate to ensure that the future provides access to services within the criminal justice system and to ensure individual rights are not violated. Participants will learn: 1. The current statistics on individuals within the criminal justice system with disabilities and the current trends toward attempts to criminalize disabilities such as Asperger Syndrome (ASD) and mental health disorders. 2. Recent case examples where individuals with I/DD or other disabilities were accused of crimes and not provided appropriate supports within the criminal justice system. Also examples of cases where perpetrators are not being charged accordingly when victimizing individuals with disabilities. 3. What the rights are of individuals with disabilities to appropriate supports under ADA within the criminal justice system as well as within victim services. 4. Ways to ensure individuals with disabilities are provided access to appropriate services, especially when wrongfully accused of crimes or when injuries results from interactions with law enforcement. 5. Suggestions on how to collaborate with agencies within the criminal justice system to ensure rights are upheld and proper resolutions are obtain via programs like jail diversion and alternative options for those accused and/or convicted of crimes. Additionally examples of how to work with the media to ensure that portrayals of such cases are done without prejudice and to ensure accurate reporting takes place.

Carolyn Gammicchia, Andrew Gammicchia