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The Criminal Justice Response to People with Disabilities: Ensuring Fairness, Equality and Dignity Breaking the Silence.

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Presentation on theme: "The Criminal Justice Response to People with Disabilities: Ensuring Fairness, Equality and Dignity Breaking the Silence."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Criminal Justice Response to People with Disabilities: Ensuring Fairness, Equality and Dignity Breaking the Silence

2 We are…people first. NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US!!!

3 Lessons from our greatest teachers

4 Definition of Disability a medical label a body part that works differently a consequence of the environment. a part of being human

5 “My body makes me disabled; society makes me handicapped.” ~ Anonymous

6 Plain Language Disability does not mean inability. I am a person. I learn differently. I am more like you than different. A label doesn’t tell you who I am.

7 Disability Competence: One Model I need to be competent and knowledgeable about all types of disabilities, various accommodations and legal definitions before I can work with people with disabilities.

8 Disability Humility: A New Model “When I meet someone with a disability, I will be open, creative, respectful, and ready to learn.” “I will treat everyone with a disability as a unique person.”

9 Welcoming Physical Environments Is it easy for me to get there? Do any of the materials show people with disabilities? Do the materials and the people say I can request an accommodation? Are materials written in plain language and include pictures? Do I have choices in the physical setting?

10 Welcoming Attitudinal Environments People seem glad to see me People use words I can understand People treat me like an adult People don’t pretend to understand me when they don’t (I can tell) People ask me how they can best help me They work with others who can support me or provide assistance

11 People with disabilities experience violence 1.5 times more often than people without disabilities. Bureau of Justice Statistics Other studies indicate that people with disabilities are 3 to 10 times more likely to experience violence than people without disabilities. Prevalence

12 More data Of persons who were victimized, 75% had a developmental disability.

13 Who are the Victims? Unable to resist or escape Unable or unlikely to report Risk increases with level of disability May lack critical information Trained to comply Dependent on caregivers May have a ‘reputation ’

14 Who are the Victims? Learned helplessness Isolation Lonely Little power History of abuse Environmental risks

15 Who are the Offenders? Persons paid to provide services Family members Transportation providers Other acquaintances Peers Strangers

16 Response to the Problem Prevention of violence Education/Awareness Understanding of indicators Take Action when violence occurs ADA applications to crime victims COLLABORATION IS A MUST!

17 The Question to ask Yourself… “What do I need that I do not have?”

18 Stages for the Survivor: Criminal Justice Disclosure/Crisis stage Resources mobilized Stabilization Arrest of offender Before court Court After court

19 Healing begins with relationship. Relationship is critical even with one time contacts.

20 Interventions Establishing Rapport Person first Speak directly to the person Adult interactions Use first names and plain language Make eye contact Put self at eye level with the person Easy chatting to establish a connection

21 Interventions Establishing rapport (continued) Offer choices!!!!! Take your time Use pictures when possible Allow time for the person to respond Provide with the facts Respect boundaries (including wheelchairs) Reflect feelings

22 Location of Interview Select safe location (not home) Limit distractions

23 Considerations Concrete thinking Mimicking Through protectors Cloak of competence Eager to please Pleasant facade

24 Considerations Receptive and expressive language May be easily distracted May not trust easily

25 Communication Adaptations Avoid legal jargon Simpler words/sentences Break down key concepts Open-ended, non-leading questions Do not ask, “Do you understand?” Ask same question in different ways

26 Communication Adaptations Arrange for support person to be there, if person agrees Avoid sarcasm, clichés and words with multiple meanings Use visual, kinesthetic, interpersonal and music when possible Take breaks

27 Communication Adaptations Let the person tell their story and lead the interview Take plenty of time Offer choices Provide facts Look for patterns of misunderstanding

28 Communication examples Let’s go back…. He, she, they….what?

29 Credibility Establishing understanding of Truth vs. Lie What happens if you tell a lie? Point to body parts - tell me the name Remember and tell what happened

30 Many people with disabilities are credible witnesses

31 Before Court Offer person an advocate Bring person into the courtroom Show who sits where Explain what happens in simple words Practice looking at Attorney Role Play giving testimony Visual Cue for calming down

32 Before Court It’s okay to say, “I don’t know”. Practice: “Can you say that another way?” Tell the person they are helping other people to be safe.

33 During Court Plan for a support person to be present Use relationship and visual cues Use expert witness familiar with disability issues and violence Use communication adaptations Take a break if needed

34 After Court Keep person informed Help person feel safe Encourage person to go to counseling Remind person they were brave to help others

35 Recovery May need to educate significant others about the need Recognize that victims with disabilities have similar recovery issues as victims without disabilities Determine communication abilities and preferences Make adaptations to traditional recovery work based on individual need

36 Recovery Make adaptations to traditional recovery work based on individual need Break information into smaller pieces Use music, physical, visual and interpersonal strategies May need to teach the person to make choices

37 People First Language - Put people first - Do not focus on disability - Do not portray successful people with disabilities as superhuman - Do not sensationalize a disability - Do not use general labels

38 You, As a Journalist! Can you rewrite the following article using respectful, people-first language?

39 Presume that people are COMPETENT, CAPABLE, and WONDERFUL!


41 With Liberty and Justice for ALL…

42 Shirley A. Paceley 217-875-8890 Blue Tower Training Center (BTTC) is a division of Macon Resources, Inc. (MRI) which provides training, consultation, training materials and resources on a national as well as international basis. Discover The Power of P.E.E.R. Passion. Equality. Empowerment. Respect. Learn more about BTTC by logging on to

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