autism awareness

17 petitions

Update posted 4 days ago

Petition to Governor Terry McAuliffe

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 Harrison
1,407 supporters
Started 4 weeks ago

Petition to virginia, Mark Warner, Virginia Governor, Virginia State House, Virginia State Senate, Bobby Scott, L. Louise Lucas, Bob Goodlatte, Gerry Connolly, Barbara Comstock, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Don Beyer, Randy Forbes, Morgan Griffith, Rob Wittman, Dave Brat, Virginia Court, A. Donald McEachin

Autism & Police Officers

I am the mother of a 17yr old African American son who is amazing.  He is extremely excited about getting his drivers license and we are as well, but I'm also scared to death.  My son has autism and while very high functioning and fully capable of driving he can become flustered when placed in a stressful situation.  My concern is the day he is pulled over by an officer that does not realize his challenges and my son is arrested or hurt.  Virginia will accept a letter from his doctor stating his is autistic but capable of driving but the letter is not submitted to the various agencies that will encounter him on the road.  I am reaching out to VA state officials and anyone that can help.  Along with our physical descriptions and eyewear let's add autism to our licenses and system databases.  This simple addition will save the lives of many of our children.  Officers of the law should also have mandatory sensitivity classes so they know how to handle a situation with a person challenged with autism.  Please take the time to sign my petition to raise awareness and assure the safety of some of the most precious members of society.

Lynnette Thaxton
147 supporters