Creating Pathways to Justice® for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in Today’s Criminal Justice System
Do you have a child with an intellectual or developmental disability who has been accused of a crime? Do you represent a client who has an intellectual or developmental disability? Do you not know where to turn to for help? Luckily, The Arc of the United States has established the National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability® (NCCJD) to provide state-by-state resources, training, and free publications, to help families and practitioners support those with intellectual and developmental disabilities facing involvement in the criminal justice system, whether as victims, witnesses, suspects, or offenders. Most of the resources can be accessed from their website, WWW.THEARC.ORG/NCCJD, and searched generally, by state, or by audience.
NCCJD not only provides resources to families and lawyers, but is also designed to assist all criminal justice professionals, including law enforcement personnel, disability advocates, and people with disabilities who find themselves entangled in a criminal justice system that often does not understand the specific needs or how to accommodate people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
If you have a few minutes, watch NCCJD’s “Pathways to Justice®” video. It highlights challenges faced by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the criminal justice system. This powerful tool educates criminal justice professionals, including law enforcement, victim advocates, legal professionals, and others about how cracks in the system often have devastating effects. One of NCCJD’s primary goals is to provide hands-on training to all criminal justice professionals, as well as disability advocates. In 2015, NCCJD piloted its Pathways to Justice® training program, which works to establish Disability Response Teams in communities to help prevent unnecessary criminal justice involvement for people with disabilities. In 2017, NCCJD, in partnership with local Chapters of The Arc, will be training in at least six new sites, including sites in Virginia, California, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Texas, and Illinois.
To find your local Chapter of The Arc and learn more about local initiatives for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, please visit http://www.thearc.org/find-a-chapter. To learn more about the work NCCJD is doing, please visit http://www.thearc.org/NCCJD. The vast amount of valuable resources makes this a must-visit website for anyone who is involved in the criminal justice system, whether or not you are currently so involved. The knowledge that NCCJD provides will benefit our most vulnerable citizens should the need arise.
by Dean Beer, Esq. of McAndrews Law Offices, P.C.