autism awareness

24 petitions

Update posted 2 months 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
5,753 supporters
This petition won 4 months ago

Petition to South Carolina State Senate, Katrina Shealy

South Carolina Autism Community Against S.1067

The South Carolina legislature has been working diligently to find a way to ensure that individuals with autism receive medically necessary treatment. At this time there is a “compromise” bill being considered by the Senate. The “compromise” is allegedly between the autism community and the insurance industry/BCBS.Undoubtedly the Senators behind this bill believe they are serving the autism community but we have been little heard in this process and significantly misunderstood. Not only is S.1067 an unfair “compromise” it is actually a setback to the autism community. It is a setback because it condones the disparate treatment of the autism community in its pursuit of health insurance coverage. It condones isolating the autism community to be treated differently than everyone else. Additionally, S.1067 will require you to pay a second premium to get a rider that is added to  the health insurance that you already pay for. Why would we do that when there’s Medicaid’s TEFRA program? We certainly don’t need another welfare program to threaten funding to Medicaid’s autism program.  Please sign this petition to ensure that the Senators realize the autism community itself does not want this bill. Indicate you are signing because you or a family member is impacted by autism.  This is a pressing matter. The bill reaches the Senate floor next Tuesday, March 20, 2018.   

Leslie Robinson
539 supporters