Chairman of the Criminal Justice Advocacy for the Mentally Ill Speaks Out Against The Criminalization of Asperger Syndrome

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04/30/2015

To:Hashem and Aleph Institute

From: Joseph M. Jason, Chairman Criminal Justice Advocacy for the Mentally Ill

Re:  Criminalization of Asperger Syndrome and Mental Illness

My son Daniel is presently in Clarinda Iowa serving a 45 year sentence.   He is prisoner number 6856003.  His release date is April 9, 2033.  Daniel has Asperger Syndrome.  Despite this severe handicap in life, he graduated the University of Iowa in December of 2005 with an A- average.  Daniel has two people in the world who love him-his father Joseph and his mother Nancy.  Daniel is a grandchild of holocaust survivors.  Daniel cannot look you in the eye and does not want to be hugged.  The Asperger Syndrome unlike today was not diagnosed until Daniel was 16.  Before that Daniel had absence seizures for approximately 5 years.  This is a form of epilepsy. 

Daniel was an excellent baseball player and tennis player.  He also ran track and cross-country.  Daniel loves dogs.  He has a special bonding with our dogs Zack, Rody and Casey.

He was devastated when we had to put Rody, our Shih Tzu to sleep due to a tumor in 2012. 

 

Many people today have autistic children.  Some of them have family members with Asperger Syndrome or high functioning autism. I know what it is like to live with somebody with Asperger Syndrome, who struggles to look their own parents in the eye, and not being able to reciprocate with the love that you have for them. I grieved when at a young age it became apparent that Daniel could not make friends. I grieved when I coached his baseball teams and he would sit on the bench by himself. My son graduated from the University of Iowa with an A- average. I grieved when I took him on numerous interviews and he could not be hired due to his autism. I grieved when he fell in love with a girl and she finally rejected him and he could not accept it. To him, nobody else would ever love him. I grieved when we had to hospitalize Daniel a couple of times in his youth. I grieved when his roommates at college could not stand living with him and tried to beat him. I grieved when he got caught up in the legal system and not many cared about him. I have spent years advocating for him. Daniel is not violent but yet he has already wasted at least 10 years being incarcerated. What a tragic waste of a life.  Without the autism, he could be a CPA, an attorney, or an investment banker. With a criminal record, what job will he ever hold now? 

Daniel was involved in a relationship with a woman from the University of Iowa from February 2005 to approximately August of 2006.  During this period of time, there were orders of protection where both parties violated the order.  After Daniel graduated College in December of 2005, the relationship was an on and off relationship.  By September of 2006, the woman no longer wanted contact from Daniel but Daniel did continue to contact her.  Daniel believes that he can win her back and is not violent. 

Although Daniel has at times threatened people, he has never had a weapon or been violent.  It is impossible to fight the perception that he could in the future.  Isn’t that true of any of us?  Even thought the medical facts and endless psychiatric evaluations do not support this.  The best predictor according to experts is the past and Daniel has not been violent in the past.

 

It is written that if you save a life, you save a world. I am asking for your help in getting the story of my son Daniel out to the public.  My hope is that this story gets out so others will not have to suffer like Daniel and my family..  Daniel was found guilty on stalking and extortion in 2014.  On May 23rd, 2014 he was convicted as a habitual offender. His sentencing took place on July 11, 2014. Daniel received a sentence of 45 years. Daniel has already suffered being in jails and prisons since March of 2007 except for 4 and a half months.  Most of this time imprisoned can be traced to the Johnson County prosecutor’s office.  Daniel has recently lost all his appeals and only has hope through post conviction relief.  There has been cruel and unusual punishment and violations of the American Disabilities Act.  Prior to the trial, Daniel was forced to wear a stun belt despite his history of no violence.   The trial took place on February 25, 2014 and lasted three days.  Prior to the trial, Daniel was forced to wear a stun belt despite his history of no violence.  After being coerced to choosing a trial by Judge, the belt was removed.   The actions of the prosecution in Iowa City are indicative of the criminalization of Asperger Syndrome.   My son was tried at this date for extortion and stalking. My son sent sixteen emails and made two phone calls that were after hours.  These charges are a travesty. My wife and I met with the prosecutor in December of 2012 and explained Asperger Syndrome and mental illness. We explained that our son’s behavior is childlike rather than criminal. We told them he needs treatment and not incarceration.  We gave them a forensic psychiatrist’s report that demonstrates he is not violent. He is a nuisance. Although, we do recognize his impact on the girl, it can never justify such a harsh, basically life sentence.  We told them that his behavior according to Dr. Mills is typical of one with Asperger Syndrome. We told them he has an organic brain disorder. His criminal behavior consists only of phone calls and emails.  This meeting has made no difference.    If the Iowa prosecutor’s office was serious about avoiding an expensive trial, they would have offered a humane plea agreement.  Instead they offered an agreement of ten years. During the trial Dr. Mills testified that Daniel has no history of violence. In fact people with Asperger Syndrome are more likely to be bullied.   Daniel did not have intent and is not a stalker. His actions are part of having Asperger Syndrome and not a suitor stalker.  His actions were flawed and ambivalent.  He did not want to contact his ex-girlfriend so he chose a flawed way.  He had her phone number and did not call it.  He used an email address no longer used by his ex-girlfriend.  His phone calls were either on the weekend or after hours to the County Auditor’s office. He was blowing off steam.  Daniel cannot connect the dots.  There is a disconnect between how we feel and how he feels.  Daniel made reference to an embarrassing incident in the Johnson county auditor’s office.  This referred to an employee who defecated in their pants.  He was given two counts of extortion for this by overzealous Johnson County prosecutors. 

 The typical offender sitting in Johnson County right now has been charged with robbery, theft, murder, sexual abuse, domestic abuse assault, drug offenses etc.  My son is not a thug, but yet got the stiffest sentence out of all of them.  It is the criminalization of Asperger Syndrome.      A full one-third of the nation’s states get a D or F grade for using mental health courts and crisis intervention teams (CIT) – diversion programs proven to reduce the criminalization of mental illness, the study found.  Iowa received a well deserved F.   “People with untreated psychiatric disease should be getting the treatment they need before law enforcement shows up at their door because of behaviors caused by their illness,” said Doris A. Fuller, executive director. That is punishment fit for a major drug dealer and/or murderer. This case, as it always has, cries out for treatment and not incarceration.  I had found a place for my son to live.  It is called Trinity in Illinois and it is an excellent place for people with issues similar to my son.  That is where he belongs.  Daniel was living with us for the entire time and did not go to Iowa. This did not  stop the charges of stalking and extortion because of two voice messages and 16 emails.. This is not what our founding fathers envisioned that America should be. Daniel has already been in jail and prisons for most of the time since 2007. Dr. Mills has stated that Daniels’s so called criminal conduct is caused by his Asperger Syndrome. “Mr. Jason cannot legitimately be considered morally responsible for his misconduct.” Dr. Mills also states that “The lack of significant history of violence is important.” As stated in the article, Forensic aspects of Asperger’s Syndrome by Justin B. Barry-Walsh and Paul E. Mullen in the Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, “It behooves us to draw to the court’s attention the obvious: that patients with Asperger’s Syndrome suffer from mental disorder and that their offending and subsequent disposition must be placed in this context. The core features of Asperger’s Syndrome and how they determine what the individual knows and understand of the world should form a basis for sophisticated assessment of the issues of disability”.  Senator Durbin, and Senator Harkin have been apprised of this situation.. The Autism Society of America believes this to be the most egregious case in the United States.  Murderers have received less of a sentence than my son is facing.     Daniel has a brain disorder and needs mental health treatment not incarceration. This typifies everything that is wrong in the State of Iowa regarding the Criminalization of the Mentally Ill and Asperger Syndrome.  This Criminalization of the Mentally ill must be confronted and stopped. .  It took courageous people to say no to slavery in our history.  We must say no to the incarceration of our non-violent mentally ill.  This is my mission in life.

 

 In summary, it must be reiterated that Daniel, did commit crimes, but they were non-violent crimes. He never hurt anyone physically.  His doctors have verified that he is not capable of hurting anyone. One of the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome is that he often makes verbal threats with no inclination to carry them out. Iowa courts failed to see this, favoring to treat him harshly by giving him the maximum sentence allowable by law.

 Correctional systems have the express intent of punishing offenders with the intent that if they miss out on years of their lives, they will learn to live by societal rules. This is not the case for people with organic brain disorders, who are incapable of rationalizing cause and effect, rendering any jail time, moot.     

 

 

Joseph M. Jason,

Chairman of Criminal Justice Advocacy for People with Mental Illness 

(847)537-3009 

                                                                  

 

 

 

 

 

Revolution Against Mass Incarceration

Release to Associated Press-December 16, 2015
Chairman of the NAMI Criminal Justice Advocacy for the Mentally Ill, Joseph M. Jason called for a Revolution against Mass Incarceration. He stated that it is a crime against humanity for the United States to have 5% of the world population, but yet 25% of the world prison population. Many of the offenders like his son Daniel Jason are non-violent and suffer from mental illness. The mentally ill and people with Autism have no chance in the Criminal Injustice System and that needs to be changed. There must be treatment and not incarceration. We must keep advocating for change. We will not bow. We will not break. We will continue to advocate.

“If societies are judged by how they treat their most disabled members. Our society will be judged harshly indeed,” said E. Fuller Torrey M.D., a research psychiatrist and Treatment Advocacy Founder.

I provided testimony to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee-Daniel S. Jason and a 45 year sentence with no parole

Regarding: I provided testimony to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee-Daniel S. Jason and a 45 year sentence with no parole

 

Executive Director:Mary Gilberti

CC: Ron Honberg:

Your silence is deafening in the matter of my son.  His case affects every non-violent person who has been Criminalized for Mental Illness and Asperger Syndrome.  I just provided testimony to Washington. See the link below.   You should be providing testimony to Washington regarding my son.  It involves serious constitutional issues.  You should have written an Amici Curiae(friend of the court brief) from NAMI.  In my opinion, the  National NAMI organization has a history of being impotent, gutless and lacks real  leadership.

My non-violent son has been sentenced to 45 years in prison. He has already been in jail and prisons since 2007.   The Judge recommended he be given no parole.  This is for two voice messages and 16 emails in 2012.  Many people consider Daniel to be the poster child for the Criminalization of Asperger Syndrome and Mental Illness.  You will be both judged for the silence NAMI has presented itself in my son’s matters and others like him who are incarcerated.  The mentally ill person in jail has no chance.  It is inexcusable and unconscionable.  He represents many others in the criminal justice system.

You silence condones the use of stun belts on non-violent offenders, mentally ill people being charged with being habitual offenders and cruel  and unusual punishment.

The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) is a Federal advisory committee that coordinates all efforts within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) concerning autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Through its inclusion of both Federal and public members, the IACC helps to ensure that a wide range of ideas and perspectives are represented and discussed in a public forum. What follows is my testimony.  I have also included an Appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court.  I await  any response. The NAMI policy statement clearly just seems to be a bunch of empty words when it comes to criminal justice.

Joseph M. Jason, CPA, MST
Past President NAMI BA 2011-2014
Chairman NAMI Criminal Justice Advocacy for the Mentally Ill
(847)537-3009

NAMI Chairman of Criminal Justice Advocacy for the Mentally Ill Calls for Taking Your Righteous Anger and Turning It into a Force for Doing Good.

Take your righteous anger and turn it into a force for doing good. Redirect your frustration with injustice and unfairness and channel it into a drive to fight injustice and unfairness. Let your outrage propel you into action. When you see innocent people suffering, help them. Combat the pain in the world with goodness. Alleviate suffering wherever you can.

And the so called victim made a person with Autism think that she was having 4 children and named them

This is dedicated to you people who have badgering me about the so called  victim, Cynthia Courter.  .  What about her lies of naming babies and having a second pregnancy.  You won’t find this in the court records. You won’t find this in the court record as the prosecutors hid it. However as g-d is my witness, a higher power knows the truth and the post traumatic stress it caused to Daniel.  Ask yourself why she has a dormant account and only looks for Daniel emails.  She knows Daniel will never hurt her, but she is embarrassed about having a relationship with a person with Asperger Syndrome.
Page 5-The State of Iowa and Cynthia Courter never acknowledge the fact that Cynthia Courter became pregnant again. In fact she committed perjury on this subject.  Cynthia in fact drove Daniel to his apartment on 09/14/2006.  See the timeline.
02/2005 through 12/2005 Daniel and Cynthia have a relationship which includes having an abortion and then replacement babies. The replacement babies supposedly all die per Cynthia because of chemicals used from abortion.  The first abortion was in April 18, 2005.  She lost the second pregnancy in October of 2005.
Cynthia tells Daniel that she got an injection to keep the baby and she had Braxton hicks with many complications. 
The only people who knew about the pregnancies were Cynthia, Dan and her sister Rebekah, Cynthia’s sister.    Cynthia said that she went to a miscarriage hospital  and delivered the dead babies.  She said the Doctor said that one of the dead babies  had blonde hair and a Jewish nose.  Dan is not sure what is true and false in her stories, but he knows she was pregnant twice.  She did not have her period during the second pregnancy. 

After the abortion which took place on April 18, 2005, Cynthia was upset about losing her baby.  She rubbed her tummy and she missed the baby.   Dan and Cynthia felt bad about the abortion.  According to Cynthia,because of the chemicals from the abortion (RU486), Cynthia has  twins with a conjoined heart and the other one had  down syndrome.  These 4 kids had the names of Derek, Aidan, Hayden, and Dillian.    The miscarriage took place in October of 2005. 

Iowa’s Appeal Court approved a 45 year sentence last Wednesday on October 30, 2015. It’s called the Criminalization of Asperger Syndrome and Mental Illness.


Press release to Associated Press:
Iowa’s Appeal Court approved a 45 year sentence last Wednesday on October 30, 2015. It’s called the Criminalization of Asperger Syndrome and Mental Illness.

Iowa affirmed Daniel S. Jason’s convictions in the Appellate Court. The Court approved Daniels’s 45 year sentence since he was a habitual offender. The Appellate Judges decided that wearing a shock belt despite being non-violent was irrelevant. There was no consideration that Jason was not even in the state. There was no consideration that Jason is not violent and has never been. There was no consideration of people with Asperger Syndrome being unable to show remorse. Despite the enormous debilitation caused by Asperger Syndrome, the court stated that Daniel has mild autism.
Basically, the Court ruled that Daniel is a smart guy, “with a photographic memory” to boot, whose ASD is of minor significance; and who tried to manipulate the judicial system after continuing to harass the victim because he didn’t think it would get him in much trouble; and who received a fair sentence from a patient judge. They do believe that punishment will deter future crimes and Asperger Syndrome and Mental Illness is irrelevant. Paul Loeffelholz a past Psychiatrist in Iowa’s prison system noted for torturing the mentally ill once said “Mental illness is no bar to a person’s doing time.” Apparently Iowa is going back to the good old days while the rest of the country is seriously trying to cut down on the prison population.

I witnessed the trial. The legal system is stacked against the mentally ill and they have no change of getting a fair trial. Daniel’s forensic psychiatrist was the real expert and that opinion did not count.
The following is an excerpt from Joseph M. Jason, Chairman of the NAMI Criminal Justice Advocacy for the Mentally Ill and a past President of NAMI BA.

“The trial took place on February 25, 2014 and lasted three days. The actions of the prosecution in Iowa City are indicative of the criminalization of Asperger Syndrome. My son was tried at this date for extortion and stalking. My son sent various emails and made two phone calls. These charges are a travesty. My wife and I met with the prosecutor in December of 2012 and explained Asperger Syndrome and mental illness. We explained that our son’s behavior is childlike rather than criminal. We told them he needs treatment and not incarceration.
We gave them a forensic psychiatrist’s report that demonstrates he is not violent. He is a nuisance. We told them that his behavior according to Dr. Mills is typical of one with Asperger Syndrome. We told them he has an organic brain disorder. His criminal behavior consists only of phone calls and emails. This meeting has made no difference. If the Iowa prosecutor’s office was serious about avoiding an expensive trial, they would have offered a humane plea agreement. Instead they offered an agreement of ten years. During the trial Dr. Mills testified that Daniel has no history of violence. In fact people with Asperger Syndrome are more likely to be bullied. Daniel did not have intent and is not a stalker. His actions are part of having Asperger Syndrome and not a suitor stalker. His actions were flawed and ambivalent. He did not want to contact his ex-girlfriend so he chose a flawed way. He had her phone number and did not call it. He was blowing off steam. Daniel cannot connect the dots. There is a disconnect between how we feel and how he feels. Daniel made reference to an embarrassing incident in the Johnson county auditor’s office. This referred to an employee who defecated in their pants. He was given two counts of extortion for this by overzealous Johnson County prosecutors.
The typical offender sitting in Johnson County right now has been charged with robbery, theft, murder, sexual abuse, domestic abuse assault, drug offenses etc. My son is not a thug, but yet received the stiffest sentence out of all of them. It is the criminalization of Asperger Syndrome. A full one-third of the nation’s states get a D or F grade for using mental health courts and crisis intervention teams (CIT) – diversion programs proven to reduce the criminalization of mental illness, the study found. Iowa received a well deserved F. “People with untreated psychiatric disease should be getting the treatment they need before law enforcement shows up at their door because of behaviors caused by their illness,” said Doris A. Fuller, executive director. That is punishment fit for a major drug dealer and/or murderer. This case, as it always has, cries out for treatment and not incarceration. I had found a place for my son to live. It is called Trinity in Illinois and it is an excellent place for people with issues similar to my son. That is where he belongs. Daniel was living with us for the entire time and did not go to Iowa. This has not stopped the charges of stalking and extortion. This is not what our founding fathers envisioned that America should be. Daniel has already been in jail and prisons for most of the time since 2007. Dr. Mills has stated that Daniels’s so called criminal conduct is caused by his Asperger Syndrome. “Mr. Jason cannot legitimately be considered morally responsible for his misconduct.” Dr. Mills also states that “The lack of significant history of violence is important.” As stated in the article, Forensic aspects of Asperger’s Syndrome by Justin B. Barry-Walsh and Paul E. Mullen in the Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, “It behooves us to draw to the court’s attention the obvious: that patients with Asperger’s Syndrome suffer from mental disorder and that their offending and subsequent disposition must be placed in this context. The core features of Asperger’s Syndrome and how they determine what the individual knows and understand of the world should form a basis for sophisticated assessment of the issues of disability.”.NAMI National , Senator Durbin, and Senator Harkin have been apprised of this situation.. The Autism Society of America believes this to be the most egregious case in the United States. Murderers have received less of a sentence than my son is facing. Daniel has a brain disorder and needs mental health treatment not incarceration. National organizations such as NAMI and CURE are following this trial. This typifies everything that is wrong in the State of Iowa regarding the Criminalization of the Mentally Ill and Asperger Syndrome. This Criminalization of the mentally ill must be confronted and stopped. I have seen and heard the overzealous prosecutors. It took courageous people to say no to slavery in our history. We must say no to the incarceration of our non-violent mentally ill. This is my mission in life.”

Joseph M. Jason Calls For Arrests in Iowa City

In my world of justice, the following would be arrested by the Department of Justice for the following crimes:

Judge Paul Miller-Cruel and unusual punishment in sentencing non-violent offender Daniel S. Jason to 45 years for two voice mails and 16 emails. He thinks Asperger Syndrome is mild and a defendant should show remorse.

Janet Lyness-Johnson County Prosecutor-Overzealous prosecution of person with Asperger Syndrome and prosecutorial negligence.

Chief of Police-Sam Hargadine-Overzealous charging and no interest in learning about Asperger Syndrome.

Prosecutor Beth Beglin-Overzealous prosecution of people with Asperger Syndrome and mental illness.

Various members of the Iowa City police force for holding themselves out as experts on stalking when the opposite was true.

While the rest of the country is trying to reduce their prison population, Iowa City is doing the opposite and imposing incarceration instead of treatment.