The Arc: Conversation Guide and Pathways to Justice™ Video

This easy-to-use tool can be used to inform criminal justice professionals – law enforcement, victim service providers and attorneys – about the need for effective disability-related training in your state or community!

NCCJD’s new “Pathways to Justice™” video 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 in the criminal justice system about cracks in the system that can have devastating effects. Only 4 minutes long, it’s a great conversation starter to use with local police departments, victim advocacy agencies, prosecutor’s and public defender’s offices and others to introduce the topic and explain why effective, ongoing training is needed.

Disability Scoop: High Court Rejects Autism-Vaccine Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a case brought by a woman who says her son’s autism was caused by vaccines he received.

Chandra D. Price sought compensation in 2008 from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, later claiming that her son Christopher T. Wynn’s autism was caused by vaccines “being given in back-to-back increments, and by mercury toxicity.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services moved to dismiss the claim arguing that Price had waited too long after her son was diagnosed in 1994 to seek compensation. Under the Vaccine Act, injury claims must be brought within 36 months of the onset of symptoms.

After years of back and forth, an attorney for Price filed a motion to dismiss her petition in 2012. Nonetheless, Price pressed forward independently and sought to reopen the case explaining that her attorney “misunderstood when Christopher’s last vaccine had been administered, which caused him to erroneously conclude that the claim had been filed outside of the Vaccine Act’s statute of limitations.”

However, a special master determined that Price did not provide sufficient reason for the case to be reopened and her request for a subsequent review of the matter was deemed to have been filed too late.

Ultimately, Price brought her case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which ruled last year that Price did not have grounds to proceed.

“Under the Vaccine Act’s limitations period, Ms. Price was required to file her claim within thirty-six months, or by June 29, 1997,” the ruling stated. “Though… the thirty-six month limitation period is subject to equitable tolling, there is no indication that equitable tolling would apply to Ms. Price’s delay of over ten years in filing her Vaccine Act Petition.”

Price then asked the Supreme Court to consider the matter, but in an order this week, the high court declined without any comment.

The court’s action comes amid renewed attention to vaccines with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting more than 150 cases of measles across the country so far this year. Most of those who have contracted the illness were not immunized.

Medical experts have widely discredited any link between vaccines and autism. A 1998 study largely responsible for sparking fears about an association between autism and the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine was retracted in 2010.

WashPOST opinion: An autistic man caught in the criminal justice system

December 12

FOR THE apparent crime of wearing a hoodie in public, an 18-year-old black man was approached by a sheriff’s deputy in Stafford County four and a half years ago. A caller had reported that the man, sitting on the grass across the street from an elementary school, might be armed. As it turned out, the suspicion was unfounded; the man, Reginald Latson, who has an IQ of 69, was doing nothing more than waiting for a public library to open its doors.

Yet that unprovoked encounter between the deputy and the teenager, which culminated in the teenager’s arrest and felony conviction for assaulting the deputy, triggered a tragic sequence of events. As The Post’s Ruth Marcus has detailed in two op-ed columns, the story of Mr. Latson is a case study of how ill-equipped the criminal justice system is to handle people with mental, developmental and emotional disabilities.

Specialists who have examined Mr. Latson describe him as a boy in a man’s body, given to violent impulses and outbursts. State officials concluded last year that he belongs in a secure therapeutic treatment center, not a prison. They arranged for just such a placement, at a facility in Florida, and a judge signed on to that plan.

But a prosecutor in Stafford County, Eric Olsen, has pressed ahead to keep Mr. Latson in prison rather than at an equally secure facility where he could receive appropriate treatment. Last spring he brought a fresh assault charge after Mr. Latson punched a prison guard — the sort of incident that is sometimes treated as a disciplinary matter in prison, not a new criminal offense.

The effect has been to prolong a toxic cycle of incarceration, violent outbursts and criminal charges. All this for a young man whose problems would be better managed outside the prison system at a secure treatment facility.

No one is suggesting Mr. Latson should go free. But it seems clear that punishment — he has been segregated for long periods from other inmates, deprived of TV, radio, books and magazines and, at various times, Tasered (after punching the guard) and straight-jacketed into a chair — is doing no good. Since his arrest in 2010, Mr. Latson has cycled through 10 or so facilities in Virginia, including jails, prisons, group homes and psychiatric hospitals. He has had recurrent suicidal urges and has lost 40 pounds from an already-lean frame.

Yet as long as Mr. Latson faces pending charges, he cannot be transferred to the treatment facility in Florida.

Given Mr. Olsen’s insistence on further criminal charges, it appears that this senseless cycle can be broken at this point only by a guilty plea or conviction at a new trial for Mr. Latson, which is scheduled for next month. Once that happens, the judge could see that Mr. Latson is moved to the treatment facility after serving a mandatory minimum sentence in Virginia, or Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) could immediately grant a pardon conditioned on Mr. Latson’s transfer to the facility in Florida. It’s not too late for Virginia to get its act together and recognize the distinction between disability and criminality.

original article

Continue reading WashPOST opinion: An autistic man caught in the criminal justice system

Patti Saylor to be honored nationally for advocacy

Patti Saylor will be honored with the National Down Syndrome Society’s Advocate of the Year award at an event in Washington later this month, the group announced Friday.

Saylor, of New Market, advocated for her son Ethan all his life, but took on a new role after his death.

Ethan Saylor, 26, died in January 2013 while he was being forcibly removed from a Frederick movie theater by three off-duty sheriff’s deputies.

Since Ethan Saylor’s death, Patti Saylor and her family have advocated for changes in police training and for better inclusion policies, among other things.

“I’m very honored,” Patti Saylor said Friday about the award. “I think the night will be a little difficult. It will be bittersweet because of the reason.” Continue reading Patti Saylor to be honored nationally for advocacy

News-Post: Judge criticizes use of force in Saylor case

A U.S. District Court judge’s opinion this week — which allowed a lawsuit filed by the family of Ethan Saylor to go forward — dwelled on issues of state police training and excessive use of force, topics brought to the state and national spotlight after Saylor’s death in 2013.

In a decision released Thursday, Judge William M. Nickerson wrote that he would not dismiss all claims against three Frederick County sheriff’s deputies or the state of Maryland because there was evidence the deputies violated Saylor’s constitutional rights and the state could be held responsible for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act for improperly training them.

Nickerson indicated that his position was based on the allegations in the family’s initial complaint and could change as the case carries forward and more evidence is introduced.

In a lawsuit filed last October, Saylor’s estate alleged violations of his civil rights and of the Americans with Disabilities Act by the state, county sheriff’s deputies, and the companies where the men were moonlighting as security guards at the Regal Cinemas Westview Stadium 16 theater.

Saylor, 26, of New Market, had Down syndrome and died Jan. 12, 2013, from a lack of oxygen while being forcibly removed by the deputies after he tried to stay for a second showing of the movie “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Saylor died of asphyxia with a fractured larynx, according to the state medical examiner’s office, which ruled the death a homicide. A Frederick County grand jury declined to indict the deputies.

In separate motions, attorneys for the deputies, Regal and the state of Maryland all asked the judge to dismiss all claims against them.

In dismissing each of the claims against Regal Cinemas, Nickerson wrote that the actions of the manager in calling for help from security were too far removed from the actual action taken by the sheriff’s deputies. Continue reading News-Post: Judge criticizes use of force in Saylor case

WPOST: Bullied autistic boy says girlfriend accused of assaulting him wanted relationship secret

The teen who’d been bullied and assaulted didn’t want to talk at first.

It was late March, and I had just interviewed the autistic 16-year-old’s mother at a Southern Maryland pizzeria. She brought me back to her home in St. Mary’s County to see whether her high-functioning son, whose alleged abuse by two girls from his high school has generated outrage, would want to recount what had happened.

According to the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Department charging documents, the older of the two girls allegedly held a large kitchen knife to the boy’s throat — twice. Another time, both girls coerced him into walking over a frozen pond, into which he fell numerous times while they stood by and videotaped on a cellphone.

The parents, who want the girls jailed for a long time, hoped that since he wasn’t talking much about the case to them, maybe he’d open up to me. He listened to my pitch, emphatically said no, and then retreated to his bedroom.

But two weeks later, the boy changed his mind. The boy, who wants to be identified by his middle name, Michael, decided it was time for him to offer his perspective. Surprisingly, Michael wanted to publicly advocate for the two Chopticon High School students charged: Lauren A. Bush, 17, who has been charged as an adult, and his 15-year-old girlfriend, who was charged as a juvenile and whose cellphone contained footage of the assaults that led to their arrest in early March. (The Washington Post generally does not identify juveniles.)

Continue reading WPOST: Bullied autistic boy says girlfriend accused of assaulting him wanted relationship secret

WPOST: Mother testifies before Senate panel about son’s death at Frederick deputies’ hands

Patti Saylor appeared before members of a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday and told them about her son, who loved law enforcement, who would sing in the voice mails he left his family and who, if he hadn’t died after being forced from a movie theater by three off-duty Frederick County deputies, would want to sit with the members of the committee, “because that’s where all the important people sit.”

More than a year after the death of Ethan Saylor, a 26-year-old man with Down syndrome, his mother continues to fight for him and others like him.

Her testimony came at a hearing chaired by Sen. Richard J. (D-Ill.) titled “Law Enforcement Responses to Disabled Americans: Promising Approaches for Protecting Public Safety.”

“I want to tell you firsthand that today’s hearing will save future lives,” Saylor said.

Continue reading WPOST: Mother testifies before Senate panel about son’s death at Frederick deputies’ hands

WPOST: Girl sentenced to juvenile facility for assaulting autistic boy in Southern Maryland

By Ian Shapira, Published: April 24

Before she was sentenced Thursday to a maximum of six years in a state juvenile detention center, the 15-year-old assailant of an autistic boy in Southern Maryland pleaded for leniency. The girl, who had used her cellphone to record the abuse, asked a St. Mary’s County judge if she could avoid jail and instead be placed in a community-based treatment program.

But Judge Michael Stamm sternly rejected the Chopticon High School student’s request, declaring that her actions and those of her accomplice — which included luring the autistic 16-year-old onto a frozen pond, where he fell in multiple times, and encouraging him to try to have sex with his family’s dog — were “horrific.” The 15-year-old, he said, posed a danger to the community.

Continue reading WPOST: Girl sentenced to juvenile facility for assaulting autistic boy in Southern Maryland

WPOST: Parents of autistic children fear their children being bullied — for good reason

By Petula Dvorak, Published: April 24

Ellen Murray cheats at games. She swindles, hoodwinks and tricks the kids she is playing with. And then she has to explain to them what just happened.

“They will always let me take their turn, again and again,” said Murray. “And we have to teach them to stand up for themselves.”

Murray is a clinical manager at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders in Alexandria. She works with children who have been diagnosed with autism, and the number one concern that parents want her to address is that their vulnerable, trusting children will be taken advantage of.

“That’s the biggest fear — the bullying,” she said.

So imagine how alarming it is for those parents to hear about the case of an autistic boy at Chopticon High School in Southern Maryland who was allegedly bullied and assaulted by two teenage girls. Among the alleged incidents recorded on a cellphone: a knife being held to the 16-year-old’s throat, his repeated falls through an icy pond after he was encouraged to fetch a basketball and his efforts to have sex with his family’s dog at the behest of two girls he considers his friends. In fact, the boy told The Washington Post’s Ian Shapira that he forgives the girls, wants the charges dropped and doesn’t think they meant any harm.

One of the girls, who is 15, pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and was sentenced Thursday to a juvenile lockdown facility for a maximum of six years. The other girl, 17-year-old Lauren A. Bush, has been charged as an adult with first-degree assault, child-pornography solicitation and false imprisonment and, if convicted, faces up to 80 years in prison.

Continue reading WPOST: Parents of autistic children fear their children being bullied — for good reason

NYT: Rhode Island Settles Case on Jobs for the Disabled

The Justice Department on Tuesday announced a “landmark” agreement with the State of Rhode Island to free people with developmental disabilities from a decades-old system that kept them unjustly segregated in sheltered workshops and adult day programs, removed from the competitive workplace and the broader community.

The settlement, which addresses the civil rights of about 3,250 Rhode Island residents, also provides a road map to compliance for the 49 other states, federal officials said. They estimated that across the country, 450,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities while away their days in essentially cloistered environments.

The court-approved agreement, known as a consent decree, was announced in Providence at a news conference attended by officials from the Justice Department and Rhode Island, including Gov. Lincoln Chafee, as well as by people with developmental disabilities and aspirations who spent years stuck in sheltered workshops that financially exploited them. Continue reading NYT: Rhode Island Settles Case on Jobs for the Disabled