Press release to Associated Press:
Iowa's Appeal Court approved a 45 year sentence last Wednesday on October 30, 2015. It’s called the Criminalization of Asperger Syndrome and Mental Illness.
Iowa affirmed Daniel S. Jason’s convictions in the Appellate Court. The Court approved Daniels’s 45 year sentence since he was a habitual offender. The Appellate Judges decided that wearing a shock belt despite being non-violent was irrelevant. There was no consideration that Jason was not even in the state. There was no consideration that Jason is not violent and has never been. There was no consideration of people with Asperger Syndrome being unable to show remorse. Despite the enormous debilitation caused by Asperger Syndrome, the court stated that Daniel has mild autism.
Basically, the Court ruled that Daniel is a smart guy, "with a photographic memory" to boot, whose ASD is of minor significance; and who tried to manipulate the judicial system after continuing to harass the victim because he didn't think it would get him in much trouble; and who received a fair sentence from a patient judge. They do believe that punishment will deter future crimes and Asperger Syndrome and Mental Illness is irrelevant. Paul Loeffelholz a past Psychiatrist in Iowa's prison system noted for torturing the mentally ill once said "Mental illness is no bar to a person's doing time." Apparently Iowa is going back to the good old days while the rest of the country is seriously trying to cut down on the prison population.
I witnessed the trial. The legal system is stacked against the mentally ill and they have no chance of getting a fair trial. Daniel's forensic psychiatrist was the real expert and that opinion did not count.
The following is an excerpt from Joseph M. Jason, Chairman of the NAMI Criminal Justice Advocacy for the Mentally Ill and a past President of NAMI BA.
“The trial took place on February 25, 2014 and lasted three days. The actions of the prosecution in Iowa City are indicative of the criminalization of Asperger Syndrome. My son was tried at this date for extortion and stalking. My son sent various emails and made two phone calls. These charges are a travesty. My wife and I met with the prosecutor in December of 2012 and explained Asperger Syndrome and mental illness. We explained that our son’s behavior is childlike rather than criminal. We told them he needs treatment and not incarceration.
We gave them a forensic psychiatrist’s report that demonstrates he is not violent. He is a nuisance. We told them that his behavior according to Dr. Mills is typical of one with Asperger Syndrome. We told them he has an organic brain disorder. His criminal behavior consists only of phone calls and emails. This meeting has made no difference. If the Iowa prosecutor’s office was serious about avoiding an expensive trial, they would have offered a humane plea agreement. Instead they offered an agreement of ten years. During the trial Dr. Mills testified that Daniel has no history of violence. In fact people with Asperger Syndrome are more likely to be bullied. Daniel did not have intent and is not a stalker. His actions are part of having Asperger Syndrome and not a suitor stalker. His actions were flawed and ambivalent. He did not want to contact his ex-girlfriend so he chose a flawed way. He had her phone number and did not call it. He was blowing off steam. Daniel cannot connect the dots. There is a disconnect between how we feel and how he feels. Daniel made reference to an embarrassing incident in the Johnson county auditor’s office. This referred to an employee who defecated in their pants. He was given two counts of extortion for this by overzealous Johnson County prosecutors.
The typical offender sitting in Johnson County right now has been charged with robbery, theft, murder, sexual abuse, domestic abuse assault, drug offenses etc. My son is not a thug, but yet received the stiffest sentence out of all of them. It is the criminalization of Asperger Syndrome. A full one-third of the nation’s states get a D or F grade for using mental health courts and crisis intervention teams (CIT) – diversion programs proven to reduce the criminalization of mental illness, the study found. Iowa received a well deserved F. “People with untreated psychiatric disease should be getting the treatment they need before law enforcement shows up at their door because of behaviors caused by their illness,” said Doris A. Fuller, executive director. That is punishment fit for a major drug dealer and/or murderer. This case, as it always has, cries out for treatment and not incarceration. I had found a place for my son to live. It is called Trinity in Illinois and it is an excellent place for people with issues similar to my son. That is where he belongs. Daniel was living with us for the entire time and did not go to Iowa. This has not stopped the charges of stalking and extortion. This is not what our founding fathers envisioned that America should be. Daniel has already been in jail and prisons for most of the time since 2007. Dr. Mills has stated that Daniels’s so called criminal conduct is caused by his Asperger Syndrome. “Mr. Jason cannot legitimately be considered morally responsible for his misconduct.” Dr. Mills also states that “The lack of significant history of violence is important.” As stated in the article, Forensic aspects of Asperger’s Syndrome by Justin B. Barry-Walsh and Paul E. Mullen in the Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, “It behooves us to draw to the court’s attention the obvious: that patients with Asperger’s Syndrome suffer from mental disorder and that their offending and subsequent disposition must be placed in this context. The core features of Asperger’s Syndrome and how they determine what the individual knows and understand of the world should form a basis for sophisticated assessment of the issues of disability.”.NAMI National , Senator Durbin, and Senator Harkin have been apprised of this situation.. The Autism Society of America believes this to be the most egregious case in the United States. Murderers have received less of a sentence than my son is facing. Daniel has a brain disorder and needs mental health treatment not incarceration. National organizations such as NAMI and CURE are following this trial. This typifies everything that is wrong in the State of Iowa regarding the Criminalization of the Mentally Ill and Asperger Syndrome. This Criminalization of the mentally ill must be confronted and stopped. I have seen and heard the overzealous prosecutors. It took courageous people to say no to slavery in our history. We must say no to the incarceration of our non-violent mentally ill. This is my mission in life.”
Joseph M. Jason, CPA, MST
Past President NAMI BA
Chairman NAMI Criminal Justice Advocacy for the Mentally Ill