Social Justice for adults with Mental or Intellectual Disabilities

Social Justice for adults with Mental or Intellectual Disabilities

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Let’s Fight Mental Illness Together


Social Justice for Adults with Mental or Intellectual Disabilities


Adults with mental or intellectual disabilities are in dire need of representation when it comes to the law “There is growing evidence on the prevalence of learning disability in the criminal justice system”. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (2021), two in five of 24,848 incarcerated people that participated in a survey across 364 U.S. prisons reported a disability of some sort. Sarrett (2021) explains how US prisons hold more than 550,000 people with intellectual disabilities who endure exploitation, and harsh treatment. The survey also points out “Around a quarter of those surveyed reported having a cognitive disability, such as difficulty remembering or making decisions. A similar proportion reported at some point being told they had attention deficit disorder, and 14% were told they had a learning disability. It is sad when Police officers approach people with mentally and or intellectually disabled people disabilities the same as they would a competent person who is not disabled. 

Police officers nationwide should receive community-based training in how to respond when mental health and disability issues are present. A perfect example of this training in effect is that of the Sandra Bland Act that was passed back in 2017 in Texas. The Sandra Bland Act requires that every police officer in the State complete 40 hours of training called CIT on responding to mental illness. This same training also addresses mental health diagnoses, drug use issues, and de-escalation tactics.

According to Sheriff John W. Mina from the Orange County Sheriff’s office in Florida. “The Behavioral Response Unit” is a Co-Responder Model pilot program in which trained mental health clinicians from Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health are paired with Orange County deputies to respond to calls for service involving mental health crises. The program was launched December 15, 2020, with two Deputy-Clinician teams” (Behavioral Response Unit (BRU), n.d) To follow up on this reform, Grace Toohey from the Orlando Sentinel paper wrote the article called, “Post-George Floyd police reform: New Orange, Orlando Teams

Improve Mental Health Response to Crisis Calls”. This article states that “The Behavioral Response Unit” program mental crisis has completed more than 600 follow-ups with residents experiencing potential mental or behavioral health issues, out of the 600 cases only 26 cases involved arrests. This shows that having a clinician at the scene to assess the situation first is a promising approach.

This petition is to advocate that law enforcement receive specialized training in responding to calls that require de-escalating situations in which the person may have a mental or intellectual disability. Also, for hospitals or treatment facilities to have a protocol in place such that the first responder be a caseworker, or someone has specialized training in such situations so that law enforcement does not mistreat, hurt, or even kill those who are different and misunderstood. It is our duty as good Samaritans to campaign for those who cannot advocate for themselves, so please help make a change by signing this petition.

References: petition

A different kind of force: Policing mental illness: PartI and Part II

Simms, C. (2019, November 25). Autistic teen dies after confrontation with employees, and police at Bojangles. FOX 5 Atlanta. Retrieved March 30, 2022, from

Jennifer Sarrett Lecturer. (2021, August 16). US prisons hold more than 550,000 people with intellectual disabilities – they face exploitation and harsh treatment. The Conversation. Retrieved April 9, 2022, from

Disabilities reported by prisoners - a survey of prison ... (n.d.). Retrieved April 9, 2022, from

Services. Orange County Sheriff's Office > Services > Operational Services > (n.d.). Retrieved April 9, 2022, from

By: Jennifer Lawson and Cindy Pernett

20 have signed. Let’s get to 25!