82 petitions

Update posted 17 hours ago

Petition to Governor Terry McAuliffe, Governor Ralph Northam

Decriminalize Autism and Save Drew

Our son, Drew Harrison, has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and is currently serving three active years of a 50-year prison sentence. Drew’s Autism was not taken into consideration at trial or sentencing. We are petitioning Governor McAuliffe to grant Drew a pardon. Drew reconnected with a woman he had dated in high school. The evening before inviting him to her apartment she shared her interest in BDSM, submissive sex. She told Drew that her boyfriend was too tired after work to please her sexually. Upon arrival she laid a blanket on the floor, she allowed him to massage her shoulders and feet, she showed him her semi-nude, erotic photos of herself and engaged in sexualized talk. In the bedroom he easily removed her shirt and pants. Drew gave the woman oral sex and put a finger in her vagina. When she told him to stop he stopped. The two of them texted and emailed back and forth hundreds of times post event. They even got together a few times. On one occasion they went to a bookstore where she pointed out an erotic BDSM book for Drew to buy. Six months after the evening in her apartment she reported to the police that the contact in her bedroom was nonconsensual. Those with ASD typically have a strike or two against them when entering a courtroom. The pace of questioning often exceeds their ability to process everything that is heard. Their high anxiety and repetitive statements can be mistaken as indicators of deception or guilt. Without an understanding of their unique way of processing information and their difficulty expressing anger appropriately a court can easily question credibility and reach a faulty conclusion.  Drew’s therapist testified that Drew has a strong desire to please, that he has learned to fake well in order to fit in. The judge interpreted this as our son’s ability to be deceitful and he used it as part of the reason for convicting Drew. He never asked the autism experts in the courtroom for clarification regarding Drew’s social and communication deficits.  In a letter presented to the judge Drew’s probation officer noted that Drew complied with all probation conditions for over two years. She stated that if this were a regular case without the appeal process she would request early release from probation. She added that Drew passed the state-issued polygraph without deception. Results were consistent with the not guilty plea Drew has maintained from the beginning.      The judge stated that he didn’t view Drew as a threat to the community or the woman. He emphasized that he was sending Drew to prison as a general deterrence to others because that is what the community would want him to do. Drew’s therapists are convinced that Drew is innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. They warned the court that incarceration would be torture for our son. In prison Drew suffered a break down after abrupt medication changes and being moved from isolation into general population. To deaden his senses from loud clanging doors, the bright buzzing lights and the chatter of inmates Drew often wears ear plugs and wraps a shirt around his head. He struggles to navigate the unwritten rules of inmates. Drew lives in fear and overwhelm. He begs us, “Please get me out of here”. Prison visits are bittersweet. We are grateful to spend time with our son, but heartbroken as we see him deteriorate. We are asking Governor McAuliffe to grant Drew a pardon. We ask for your support by signing this petition. My blog gives additional details and excerpts from transcripts. It shows the considerable reasonable doubt and injustice.  Thank you, Judy and John Harrison       

Judy (Jude) Harrison
5,760 supporters
Update posted 1 week ago

Petition to The Arc of North Carolina, Daniel Svoboda, Mayor Miles Atkins


As a resident of Iredell County, North Carolina for several years, and most importantly as a parent to an amazing young man with Autism and Sensory Processing Dysfunction, I am calling for action to become our local Exceptional Children's best advocates, spreading awareness and messages of positive change within our schools I am also calling for easier access to local services and facilities for people like my son As parents and individuals who want equal rights, it is our job to meet and work with agencies to stop discrimination and promote inclusion. My twelve year old and those on the Autism Spectrum I know do not often  experience the life that they deserve...The same life the other students receive, the same life others live if they need something to help them adapt and to feel accepted if different.  I hear stories of children with friends at lunch tables across our nation, of classes with instruction and inclusion and the opportunity to do a science project or sing in choir or leave the hallway or play outside with other children. My son does not get these opportunities despite what data many similar parents might think is accurate on an IEP. No....I see complete isolation down a hallway that no one else enters. I see children eating in class while the school is in the lunchroom. Often, they eat alone in the class while they spend time on their laptops. Sometimes kids like London, my son, sit in the back of a room with foam walls surrounding them, so that they cannot see even the EC class or teacher for hours. I see them staying in EC classrooms and hear my son tell me about friends being restrained for crying every week. He spends every other day in a small room at school if he is "disruptive." Sometimes, he forgets there is a light in there and comes home crying. I go to meetings for hours and read Wrightslaw and seek advocacy but nothing changes. He remains segregated and his EC peers sit in a class with no instruction or opportunity to thrive. Meanwhile, we rank high because of laptops and test scores. EC student test scores do not count on the school rank. It seems as if the system needs this placement in order to keep prestige and budget for technology. These children are bright, do not have extreme deficits and are fully capable of being friends with others, creating projects, eating meals and playing alongside the rest of the school but they are not. I have advocated for my son for years, but it is time for us to be the change instead of leaving IEP meetings with no change and our kids feeling alone and not getting the education and childhood they deserve. Trust me, it is us that must stop being complacent and nodding our heads while our kids are put in isolation rooms, being restrained, being left out and lacking instruction so that they can be a part of our community. We start by advocating at the schools. I have speakers that I will invite and am looking for parents and/or their children who are willing to speak to the community, our schools, our classes, our administration to get them what they deserve. Inclusion is what makes all humans feel accepted. My son is not included. In fact, he is shunned. I invite you to write letters of what your vision is for your child in school or community, what you have seen living in different parts of the nation with educational results, services, etc and advocate for friendship, mentors, services, regular childhood, understanding autism for those who don't, promoting their gifts and talents, speaking out against bullying and what inclusion and the least restrictive environment means for you or your child. Send me letters, let me know when you are available to speak or if you are willing to speak to a group on any of the above subjects. Don't be afraid. Any voice is better than none. You will have support. No venue is too small. Speak up. Let me know what you can talk about and where. If you want to but lack ideas, I will assign you a subject you know and we will figure it out and put a group together to hear you. This is your time to be your child's best advocate! My other project I need your help with is a sensory room for the youth in our community that have not had this need met but deserve it. I will begin funding for the project and will be accepting donations on this page. We need to write the mayor about the benefits and lack of sensory services in educational settings and in the community. I need a location so put your feelers out and give me ideas or connections. I think a community Sensory Room will be best but have actually been turned down at two schools when I offered to build one with a project manager with all materials to redo lighting, provide balls, mats, light projectors, etc in the room that is already at the school. They said they were fine. Meanwhile kids go to "cool down rooms," as I walk passed the unused rooms with a few balls that have old cardboard, trash and desk chairs on top of them.    Step 1: Send me stories, send me availability, ideas, times or places you would be willing to share on any of the topics I mentioned in the prior paragraph. Step 2: Sign this petition Step 3: Forward this petition. Add to it on any social media platform you can with your input promoting this change for our kids. Step 4: Accept my meet up invitation that I will send out before the school year (date TBD). Bring friends or family that can relate or care or might have a connection financially, informatively, or be willing to help. Bring your children. They are always welcome and I will provide a space for them to relax, play and if they need to sit with you, they can. If you have to leave, no worries. No sitter, no problem. We will do our best and accept you, your kids just the way you are....Inclusion. No judgement. If they want to help, they can. Explain it to them in a way that they would be happy about if you are okay with that and ask them how school or life could be better and what a sensory room or school day would be like if they had one for them and their friends. Step 4: Have them sign if appropriate. Have them send a letter to me, no matter how short, telling me how they feel in school or how a sensory room would help them. Anything. They are becoming advocates. They are a huge part of this.  Step 5: Write the mayor and board of education. Contact ECAC. Ask me for this information if you don't have it.  Step 6: Raise funds/ Let me know if there is a group or person who wants to help financially, even yourself. Every penny counts. This will go to the sensory room.  Step 7: Be the change for Mooresville, NC! Be the change for your kid, my kid, other kids trapped in a cycle of less than everyone else around this wealthy school district. Sign this petition and help me. I want to do it all alone, but I need you guys, my Exceptional Child family who knows the struggles, the joys and wants the best for their children who are being denied their rights to inclusion and the amazing opportunity to live in a proud town that accepts them for who they are and advocates for them, standing out on the map, even providing a safe haven at no cost per visit to a sensory room for play, calm, and an escape from the loud world. Mooresville, NC is ready. I am ready. Are you?    1.Sign and forward 2.Contact me asap about anything you can offer for the sensory room or connections 3.Share this.    If we win this petition, our kids and your friend's kids who need sensory input or output or a place that will help them, will have this through a Community Sensory Room at no cost. We will join to help this town that is often a shining example be just that, this time with the Exceptional Children being the ones who benefit and are  given something that will benefit them and their families, whether during or after a meltdown, as a reward, as a place to go when things are hard, a place to hang out with a friend, a place to visit on a rainy day, a place of therapy for kids who hear everything, sense everything louder, more blurred and more bright than others. It is the least they deserve, special lighting, vibrations, chairs, centers; there will be input and output in the center. Your child will be given a break. It will not be shabby, embarrassing or weird. It will be cool, a wonderful experience and the place they will want to be and often need to be.    If we win, our community and schools will hopefully put inclusion into effect. If we win, you will learn and be a part of making a better way for your child or a child you know by educating other youth and the community and leaders about their rights, their abilities and demanding a life that includes them. That means a school where they eat with friends, where they are not restrained for crying, where they are able to participate in events, to play alongside neurotypical peers and receive instruction from a teacher, not just handed a worksheet and see outside of the four walls once a day for 20 minutes. They will know other people. The schools will hear their story through auditorium programs, posters promoting inclusion and parental involvement to help our young people not be treated like lepers by some through isolation and lack of opportunity. We will see less bullying, more friendships, more mainstream opportunity, and better teachers, one on ones, better budgets, organizations and teams that involve our kiddos. This is huge.    If we lose and you do not sign and write and pass this on, there will be no sensory room, there will be no inclusion, there will be lack of opportunity to be a part of what all neurotypical kids are simply allotted...classroom instruction, real recess, teams, friendships, confidence, education, a life where they never again have to fear being placed at the back of a room, facing a wall inside a box for half of a school year, like my son did. I know that sounds harsh, but that is what happened this year. If I do not make this change, I have failed you, your family and most of all my beautiful son. If we lose, our kids will not be equal in this town, plain and simple. They deserve the world. Let's give them the best we can and not remain stagnant. I am ready. Our kids need us.    Thanks for hearing me out and for your participation in being this change by signing!    Thank you!  Amber and London :)   Note: This does not reflect every educator in Mooresville. I adore so many of the teachers and staff my son has had over the years, who are still a part of his life and who fought for his rights like he was their own son. There are great people in our county who have this same vision and deserve recognition for pouring their hearts into projects for our kiddos, parents who are heroes, kids who befriend lonely ones. This is an effort to have a community with them as the example, not the rest of the community who fails to treat Exceptional Children with equality.  

Creative Minds Prosper
146 supporters
Update posted 1 week ago

Petition to Andrew Cuomo, New York State House, New York State Senate, Sue Serino, Didi Barrett, Carl Heastie, Jeffrey Dinowitz, Aileen Gunther, Angelo Santabarbara, Latoya Joyner, James Skoufis

Bailey’s Law now! Hold criminals accountable for victimizing the developmentally disabled!

 Please Support the Passage of #BaileysLaw We cannot allow criminals to get away with the death of their victims. My 19 year old autistic son, Bailey, committed suicide on 7-31-17, my birthday of all days. After nearly 20 years of complete family devotion and cultivating our lives in support, contemplation and preparation of his each new life phase, new stage, new challenge, and new triumph our lives were completely and irrevocably upended in the span of 8 minutes. Bailey had many friends. He was kind, funny, caring, generous, gentle, down to earth, and creative. He was an artist, a lover of history, and had compassion for all living things. He was a teacher his whole life as much as he was a student of it. Bailey made me stronger, made me determined, made me timely, made me adjustable, made me more understanding...and it was Bailey that made me an advocate for kids with special needs for all these years. Of course, his 3 siblings also helped make me, and him, over the years...we all made each other. Our family has always been very tight. Being a single mom the last 16 years enabled me to make my children my world, and show them we are a team. I’ve tried to give them everything I am and everything I have within me, with intention. But despite everything I’d, we’d, put in over the years my son, their brother, is gone...less then 8 minutes after leaving my side. Bailey resorted to suicide 7 days after being a victim of a financial crime, 4 days after I realized he was victimized, and less than 5 hours of being asked to ID one of the perpetrators. He was preyed upon, betrayed, and taken advantage of by a girl he knew for years and had recently befriended him. This girl connected her male friend to my son under the guise of helping them cash a check. From what I’ve been told by State Police, Bailey was hesitant to help them, unsure of whether or not the request was legitimate, and she assured my son that the request was fine and then promised him, I believe, $200 from the proceeds for his assistance. I suspect Bailey provided them with his bank card and his PIN number. On 7-24-17 the male deposited a $1675.00 fraudulent check at an atm in Highland, NY and then immediately withdrew $200 (the amount fronted with a check hold); this was caught on atm bank video. I realized there was a problem on Thursday the 27th when I noted on our joint account both the deposit and withdrawal as well as the $200 withdrawal ultimately being pulled from my separate account. Bailey was learning banking and I would transfer his disability money to the joint account so he would learn about money management, budgeting, grocery shopping, etc. Bailey was devastated over the loss. We connected with local police on the 27th, who then directed us to the nearest state troopers on the 28th, who in turn directed us to State Troopers in Highland on 7-29-17 where we filed a complaint. Later on that Saturday, my youngest son told me he overheard his brother Bailey on the phone after hearing of the banking problem on Thursday, extremely upset over the financial loss and insisting on the return of funds. On Monday, 7-31-17 the investigator came to our house at 12:30 to see if Bailey could ID the male in the bank video. Bailey claimed he did not know the person and by his reaction I believe he didn’t. At 5:16pm he left our home stating he was going for a walk to draw; this was not unlike him as his executive processing speed is slower than many and he’d use walks or drawing to manage stresses. By 5:30 I heard the emergency response sirens and ran down our street, because I never wanted my kids around the chaos when EMS was in the area, and of course I wanted to count the safety of my chicks. The area they were responding to is a nuisance area that has had more than it’s fair share of fires....but there was no fire truck, only medical response. My son had hung himself in the woods less than a block from our home. The next day I was presented with a note he’d written; he clearly believed he’d done something very wrong in trusting the wrong person. No law enforcement involved in this case believes that Bailey had the faculty to understand what was happening, or the complexities that he was a victim, and neither does any of his family nor his longstanding therapist. There is no doubt in my mind that he merely thought he was helping someone. Both accused, at this point, will only be charged minimally; one with grand larceny 4th and the other with Endangering a disabled person 1st, both class E non violent felonies. Theoretically they could each get probation. They have each since been arrested for other crimes; her on drug charges in October 2017 and him for killing a 16 year old with his car after an argument in Yonkers in December 2017. The male is being held without bail in Westchester and has yet to be charged for our case. The female was arrested and arraigned for this case but was granted release on $2000 cash/$4000 bond. I am sickened over what may be obvious to you at this point, that the charges do not reflect their role in the death of my son. People with disabilities, including autism, are among our most vulnerable community members. It seems so unjust that a charge of endangering specifically relates to affecting the mental well-being of a vulnerable person yet they are not charged with the actual consequences of this criminal action. I’m currently working with our local representatives to start the process of pushing for new legislation in the state to hold perpetrators fully accountable for the consequences of their actions. The law for Endangering in NY currently states: “Under our law, a person is guilty of Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the First Degree when he or she knowingly acts in a manner likely to be injurious to the physical, mental or moral welfare of a person who is unable to care for himself or herself because of physical disability, mental disease or defect. The term "knowingly” has its own special meaning in our law. I will now give you the meaning of that term. A person KNOWINGLY acts in a manner likely to be injurious to the physical, mental or moral welfare of a person who is unable to care for himself or herself because of physical disability, mental disease or defect when that person is aware that he or she is acting in such manner. Actual harm to the incompetent or physically disabled person need not result.” Currently under our criminal laws culpability for a persons suicide rests on the aspect of “aiding and abetting”, or, in practical terms, specifically aiding, directing or encouraging the suicide. This MUST change. Those that would intentionally cultivate an environment and/or circumstances specifically to use people with disabilities to commit a crime, need to be held accountable for the full range of actual damages they cause, including the death of their victim. We need #BaileysLaw to firmly establish... If a defendant is charged with endangering in the first degree, or another crime related and/or connected to a charge of endangering in the first degree (as in coconspirators/codefendant), whereby the events result in the victim’s suicide within reasonable proximity of the crime, defendants should be criminally charged for the victim’s death. This area of law, as it specifically relates to endangering, also needs to be updated to incorporate the disability standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Social Security Administration in trials. As it stands, the question of a successful trial seems tied to whether or not the victim has an IQ over 40, and can dress and feed oneself. This is an extremely low threshold for a successful trial against a perpetrator charged with endangering and is not in line with current state and federal laws to protect the disabled. There are an enormous number of people with autism, and other disabilities, who have a high IQ and can feed and clothe themselves but cannot fully meet their own needs in a manner that could be characterized as independent living. Bailey’s Law should protect anyone that can be considered a vulnerable person by including the state and federal standards of disability.   I urge you to support Bailey’s Law. It will not help my family but it will help many others. PLEASE, sign this petition to help me get it passed!  To view or VOTE YES on the #BaileysLaw bill (NY S.8541) you can visit  - there is a link at this location for the identical Assembly version as well. To learn more about my beloved Bailey you can visit the guestbook at To follow our journey, visit & Sincerely, Gae Marie Cannon, Poughkeepsie, NY *6-17-18 Update: Our bill for Bailey’s Law passed in the NY Senate on 6-11-18 with a vote of 44/17. The bill is now in the NY Assembly (A.10874) and I’m pushing to have it passed before the end of the legislative session on 6-20-18.  The Ulster County Court has declined to take on the female’s case (the facilitator of this crime), and referred it back to the Town Court. This means that HER CHARGES WILL BE REDUCED from felony to misdemeanor or less- because Town Courts CANNOT process felonies. It is looking more and more like she will get 3 years of probation... To put this into context- a DWI, WITHOUT LOSS OF LIFE, can result in 3 years probation, over $1000 fine and revocation of drivers license...  I am disgusted.... these people KNEW they were committing a crime. KNEW they were targeting someone with a disability, and their actions resulted in the DEATH of their victim......  Please, please share our petition... This is just not right..  Targeting our vulnerable loved ones breaks a sacred social contract in our society and we must prevent this from happening to someone else...  8-15-18 Update: Our bill for Bailey’s Law is currently stuck in the Codes Committee of the Assembly but I am pushing forward with public support signatures as well as organizational and legislator support. Our bill now has 4 Assembly sponsors: Didi Barrett, Christine Pellegrino, Angelo Santabarbara, and David McDonough. This is immensely helpful but until this bill passes in the Assembly and is signed by Andrew Cuomo, we cannot stop pushing for more bill support.  Our next court hearing for the female’s case is on August 28th. It’s expected she will be offered a plea bargain of a reduced charge (felony Endangering in the 1st to misdemeanor Endangering) with a sentence of 3 years probation. THIS IS NOT JUSTICE FOR AN INTENTIONAL CRIME THAT RESULTED IN DEATH.  The male has not yet been brought up to our county for arraignment; he is still pending trial for Murder 2 in Westchester County in an unrelated case.  What you can do to help:1. SHARE the petition and Bailey’s story, in person and online2. Go to our website and print free flyers for local venues and local bulletin boards in your town, and deliver them to all the neighbors on your street 3. Call agencies that support the disabled and/or elderly and ask them to join our coalition of support. You can give them the website address as a contact. 4. Stay informed. The blood and guts of this journey is on our Facebook page Dear Bailey. Thank you so much for your support, your caring messages (yes, I read them all), and I hope you’ll stay with me through this process of fixing the law. With gratitude, Gae Marie 

A Mourning Mom *
13,267 supporters