Persons with Disabilities and the Legal System
Persons with disabilities represent one of the nation's largest minority populations. They are overrepresented in the criminal legal system as persons who are accused as well as persons who are victims of crime. In both the criminal legal system and in society generally, persons with disabilities are often denied meaningful access to the processes and protections afforded to the general population. These training materials and resources provide introduction to some of the issues and challenges that exist in our criminal legal system for persons with disabilities.
It is important that all criminal legal system stakeholders gain a better understanding of core concepts relating to intellectual and developmental disabilities and their impact on involvement with the legal system.
The Arlington Disability and Justice Coalition conducted three trainings on issues related to persons with disabilities in the criminal legal system. To view these trainings, visit our video archives:
Week 1 Videos Week 2 Videos Week 3 Videos
Victims, Witnesses, and Defendants with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (June 24, 2019)
Ariel Simms (The Arc of the United States), Kristine Hamann (Prosecutors' Center for Excellence), and Melissa Reuland (Vera Institute of Justice) provide an overview of intellectual and developmental disabilities, prosecutors' legal obligations when interacting with the disability community, and concrete strategies to effectively serve this population using real-life case scenarios.
Comfort Kits for People with Disabilities (November 3, 2021)
Lucy Beadnell (Director of Advocacy, The Arc of Northern Virginia) and Melissa Heifetz (Founder, Advocacy Partners) introduce and explain comfort kits and their component parts. The affordable, household items in comfort kits improve criminal legal system interactions for many people with disabilities. The kit is designed to be kept by a first responder or justice personnel and re-used over time. For more detailed information about comfort kits, see our information sheet.
Effective Communication with Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Blind, and Low Vision Incarcerated People, Tessa Bialek and Margo Schlanger, Forthcoming, Vol. 26, J. Gender, Race & Just. (2022).
Disability Language Style Guide, (National Center on Disability and Journalism, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University)
Disability Research Library, (Prison Policy Initiative)
Disability Response Teams (DRTs) Explained, (National Center on Criminal Justice & Disability, The Arc)
Effective Communication with People with Disability, (Supporting Justice, Centre for Innovative Justice, RMIT University)
FAQ about Titles II and III of the ADA, (U.S. Department of Justice)
Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Who Become Involved in the Criminal Justice System: A Guide For Attorneys, (The Criminal Justice Advocacy Program and the New Jersey Bar Foundation)
Interactions with Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, (Model Policy, IACP Law Enforcement Policy Center)
Prosecutor’s Guide for Crimes Involving Victims with Disabilities, (Adult Advocacy Centers)
Reckoning with Race and Disability, (Jasmine Harris, Yale Law Journal Forum)
Supporting Crime Victims with Disabilities Online Training Toolkit, (Vera Institute of Justice)
Webinar Series: Contemporary Issues in Disability and Criminal Justice, (Mid-Atlantic ADA Center)Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
Cross-Examination Trial Pack
NACDL’s new Cross-Examination Trial Pack includes three of our best-selling Cross-Examination resources: “Damage Control: Situational Cross-Examination Techniques Trial Guide”, "Ultimate Cross 2.0: Audio Recordings & Written Materials" and "Sample Cross-Examination Questions."
This masterful collection of cross-examination resources provide countless tips, techniques and strategies for a variety of criminal case-specific scenarios. Learn to cross-examine a variety of trial witnesses!
Death Investigation: Forensic Pathology in the Courtroom and Cause & Manner of Death (2022)
This unique program provides criminal defense lawyers with an accurate and clear overview of forensic pathology and the countless factors to consider in a death investigation and will methodically explain what happens during an autopsy to determine cause and manner of death.
You'll uncover the different types of medicolegal death investigations, what to request from your MDI expert, quality benchmarks for accreditation and certification, guidelines and standards, common terminology and frequently asked questions.
The Psychology of Persuasion & Storytelling for Criminal Defense Lawyers
This Trial Resource Guide is a masterful collection of practical tips, techniques and strategies focused solely on using the arts and sciences of persuasion to improve your storytelling skills at trial.
You'll learn how to master the ability to communicate with juries, deliver powerful openings and closings, perform convincing cross-examinations, use effective courtroom choreography and non-verbal communication, identify and develop the optimal theme and theory for your case, and offer compelling arguments during mitigation and sentencing.
Zealous Advocacy in Sexual Assault & Child Victims Cases (2022)
Defending charges of sexual assault and child abuse can be daunting — but with the right tools, it doesn’t have to be.
Every year, NACDL identifies the hottest topics and most pressing issues when defending these cases, and brings-in nationally-renowned lawyers and experts to help you prepare for battle. This year’s 13th Annual Defending Sex Cases training program is our best yet; packed with topics and speakers you won’t want to miss!