Persons with disabilities represent one of the nation's largest minority populations. They are overrepresented in the criminal legal system as persons who are accused as well as persons who are victims of crime. In both the criminal legal system and in society generally, persons with disabilities are often denied meaningful access to the processes and protections afforded to the general population. These training materials and resources provide introduction to some of the issues and challenges that exist in our criminal legal system for persons with disabilities.
Laurie Hallmark, Esq. (Special Project Director for Mental Health Programs, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid) explores cases studies in the use of Psychiatric Advance Directives (PADs). PADs are a self-determination-based rights document, and the foundation for holistic advocacy. Through PADs, people with mental illness provide information regarding treatment preferences and personalized de-escalation techniques for law enforcement, crisis workers, medical and criminal justice personnel, and family and friends. In addition, PADs provide critical information regarding effective communication, enabling lawyers, courts, jail staff, probation and others to provide the necessary accommodations.
Jonathan Martinis, Esq., J.D. (Senior Director for Law and Policy, the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University) explains how and why Supported-Decision Making (SDM) serves as a practical framework for improving outcomes and accessibility within the criminal legal system. SDM is where persons with disabilities work with trusted friends, family members, and professionals to help them understand the situations and choices they face, so they may make their own decisions – rather than be subjected to a unnecessary permanent, plenary or full guardianship.
For more recorded content from the Arlington Disability and Justice Coalition Training, click the buttons below:
For more links and information on the intersection of disability rights and the criminal legal system, visit our resources page: