Benchmark Blog

Group to Address Issue of Incarceration of People with Disabilities

Dec 19, 2018
Benchmark Blog

The National Association of County Behavioral Health & Developmental Disability Directors (NACBHDD) and Benchmark Human Services (Benchmark) have partnered to co-sponsor an initiative to bring national attention to the needs of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) as they relate to the criminal justice system.

This call to action is to address the policy vacuum that currently exists regarding persons with I/DD involved with the criminal justice system. While there is considerable activity at federal and state levels to address the needs of persons with mental illness involved with the criminal justice system, there is no similar initiative to address the needs of persons with I/DD interacting with this system. A major goal is to bring national attention to this growing need and to develop a Hill Briefing tentatively scheduled for the period March-May, 2019.

The two organizations recently hosted a meeting in Washington D.C. to establish objectives, note key issues, and develop a plan to highlight critical issues. Those in attendance included Valerie Bradley, President Emerita, The Human Services Research Institute (HSRI); Eileen Elias, Director Disability Services Center; Senior Policy Advisor, JBS International; Vijay Ganju, Independent Consultant and former Secretary General of the World Federation of Mental Health; Alyssa George, Fellow at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law; Mary Lee Fay, Executive Director of the National Association of State Director of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS); and Ron Manderscheid, Executive Director of NACBHDD; Jeff Cross, President of Public Solutions, Benchmark, and Nikki Ford, Director of Development Strategies, Benchmark. The work group will be expanding to include executives from the ARC and national law enforcement associations.

“The growing incidence of persons with I/DD being incarcerated in local jails is a significant concern across the country,” said Jeff Cross. “These individuals frequently have a dual diagnosis of I/DD and mental illness but have little access to behavioral health services.  There is an acute need for policy changes and increased support to local law enforcement agencies and service provider agencies to address this issue.”

Ron Manderscheid added, “This effort addresses the new and disconcerting problem of incarceration of transition age youth with I/DD in our county and local jails—an issue that needs immediate attention. Our effort will bring potential solutions to the attention of the new Congress after they convene in January.”

To learn more, please contact:

Ron Manderscheid
[email protected]

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