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The OARacle Newsletter

For this month’s issue on safety and the criminal justice system, OAR has compiled a list of agencies and organizations that provide resources related to interacting with and navigating the legal system for autistic individuals and others with disabilities.

ASERT (Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training)

ASERT is a Pennsylvania network of agencies, universities, and providers that treat and care for autistic individuals. ASERT provides informational resources to help:

  • Autistic individuals and their families navigate the justice system, including social stories.
  • Professionals within the justice system become familiar with autism.
Protection and Advocacy Agencies

In 1975, Congress mandated every state and U.S. territory to have a protection and advocacy agency (P&A agency) to provide legal advocacy services for people with disabilities. These agencies work to ensure individuals with disabilities are treated equally and with dignity and respect across various domains, including receiving fair treatment in the criminal justice system.

According to the National Disability Rights Network, “many P&As are involved in all stages of an individual’s involvement in the criminal justice system. P&As make sure people with disabilities are not inappropriately placed in the criminal justice system, represent and advocate for persons with disabilities who are held in detention, and help ensure adequate community supports, services, and reentry planning are available for successful reintegration back into the community after incarceration.”

U.S. Department of Justice

The Office for Victims of Crime, a program within the U.S. Department of Justice, released a guide in April 2022 to instruct prosecutors on how to interact with and accommodate for children with disabilities. A trainer’s guidebook for first responders on how to effectively assist crime victims with disabilities is also available.