Here are some of my ideas for improving the system for mentally ill people incarcerated in the legal system who have Asperger Syndrome.
1)There must be fair treatment by the criminal justice system for people who have autism.
The Autism Society of America and the Criminal Justice Action Committee believes the following:
What ASA and the Criminal Justice Action Committee is calling for is fair treatment by the criminal justice system for people who have
autism. Specifically, ASA and the Criminal Justice Action Committee are calling for the following:
- All individuals with autism must have the right to have the condition of autism be considered first, and the implications of having autism be considered primary to any action taken by the criminal justice system prior to prosecution. Individuals with autism must have the right to free and appropriate individualized resources (FAIR) to enable them to receive appropriate education and training in order that they not develop nor continue behavior that may be viewed as illegal.
- Proper training in the issues associated with the syndrome of autism must be provided to all individuals associated with the criminal justice system, including judges, juries, prosecutors, defense lawyers, law enforcement personnel, and any other forensic science investigators associated with a criminal justice action.
- Individuals with autism must have the right to have expert witnesses, who understand the disability of autism, available to them in a court of law.
- If prosecuted, an individual with autism must have his disability considered primary when sentencing is handed out, e.g., consideration of a secure residential autism treatment agency if incarceration is indicated. The criminal justice system must ensure the protection of the civil rights of the individual with autism should the
individual be incarcerated in a correctional institution or other human service agency. Individuals with autism must be protected under the American’s with Disabilities Act ensuring that their autism is not the reason for the conviction in a criminal justice action.
2)Educate mental health courts-I recently provided articles about Asperger Syndrome to a new mental health court judge in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. I also gave her a summary of the trials and tribulations of my family. We were one of many groups that met with her. My dream is that mental health courts will include people with Asperger Syndrome in the future.
3)There is a need for mental health courts for federal matters. The fact that people with Asperger Syndrome are getting sentences of 27 months to 8 years in federal prison raises alarm bells. I know of another one who has been threatened with 30 years. We need to find out if this is just happening in Iowa or the whole country. To have to serve years for non-violent crimes and only get a reduction of 15% time is a grave injustice.
This time I have added my articles to this email. With your help, I pray that we can make a difference in the incarceration of people with Asperger Syndrome. While my son is now in a reentry program after 4 years and 4 months, I will continue to advocate as long as I breathe.
Joseph M. Jason, President