When Justice Sleeps: Violence and Abuse Against the Developmentally Disabled Joan Petersilia, Ph.D. Professor of Criminology, UCI Member, Mental Retardation Research Center, UCI Medical Center
Today’s Presentation • Describe the extent and nature of the problem • Explain why persons with mental retardation (MR) and developmental disabilities (DD) have high risks for abuse and crime victimization • Discuss what can be done to address problem • I am not addressing crime perpetrators, although many issues are similar
Why THIS Issue Now? • Prevalence of MR and DD increasing: • increases in child abuse & substance use during and after pregnancy • CA. population up 20%, DD population up 52%, mild MR up 100% • More DD/MR in the community • institutional pop’s just 1/3rd of what they were 30 years ago • Often little support, easy targets as victims • Not known if overall crime risk is greater, since attendants in institutions are frequent perpetrators • More low SES, urban minorities committing crime, where MR/DD rates highest. Greater MR/DD exploitation.
Defining Developmental Disabilities (DD) • Mental impairment • < 70 IQ • manifested < 18 -22 years of age • results in lifelong functional limitations (work, learning, mobility, health and safety) • Includes mental retardation (> 80% of DD), autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and severe learning disabilities • 4-5% of Americans are estimated to be DD
Characteristics of Persons with MR/DD • Childlike quality of thinking • Slowness in learning new material • Little long-term perspective or ability to think causally • Don’t often understand consequences of actions • Often followers, easily manipulated, take everything at face value • Trusting of authority, anxious to please
Prenatal genetic conditions Fragile X, Down’s Maternal Behavior and Exposures fetal alcohol syndrome Perinatal low birth weight, infections neonatal herpes, streptococcus Postnatal exposure to contaminants lead Infections bacterial meningitis Injury child battering, car accidents, near drownings What Causes MR & DD?
What Causes MR/DD? • 2 Distinct Types: • Those with an organic basis (e.g., biologic, genetic) • Those with no pathological basis (e.g., familial or cultural retardation) • measured by sustained poverty, home learning environment, parental education, father’s occupation • related particularly to mild MR
Higher rates of MR: in males (1.4 to 1) in races other than white in lower SES sustained poverty, very high rates SES virtually eliminates IQ differential by race Higher rates of criminality and victimization Exactly the Same! Demographic and Social Risk Factors
Mental Retardation Decreased ability to learn Low IQ Before Age 18 Disability not often noticeable Persons not violent Mental Illness Impacts moods & emotions Low or high IQ Occurs at any time Disability may be noticeable May be associated with violent outbursts Mental Retardation & Mental Illness are NOT the Same Thing
Child Abuse and Neglect 2 to 3 Times Higher in Children with Disabilities • Reported child abuse of DD children is: • 2.8 times as high for emotional neglect • 2.1 times as great for physical abuse • 1.8 times as high for sexual abuse • Of all children physically or sexually abused, 15-17 % had disabilities. • Underestimates, since includes only reported cases, and excludes children in institutions • National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect,1993 • The Roeher Institute (Canada): • 39-68% of girls, 16-30% of boys, with DD will be sexually abused before age 18
Persons with MR/DD Have 4 to 10 Times Higher Risk of Being Crime Victims • MR/DD person’s crime risk: • 11 times higher for sexual assault (particularly high for teen & young adult girls); 13 times higher for robbery • Over 70% of these crimes not reported to police (and of those reported, about 15% result in some action) • Higher re-victimization rate too • perpetrators regard them as easy prey--little chance of detection and punishment • 2 studies found that 50% of women with DD who had been sexually assaulted, had been assaulted 10+ times
Persons with MR/DD Have Higher Risk of Being Crime Victims Australian National Crime Victims Survey 1992
Estimate of the Number of U.S. Crime Victims with Developmental Disabilities • Take the Australian data, apply the “difference ratio’s” to U.S. NCVS data, by crime type. • Reveals that about 5 million crimes against persons with DD occur each year • compared to 1 million domestic violence, .8 million “elder abuse”; 3 million child abuse, and 8,000 hate crimes. Yet no agency or scholars focuses on these victims.
Number of U.S. Crimes Against Personswith Developmental Disabilities* # of DD Victims per non-DD Victim # of Crimes Against Persons with DD Assault 2.85 1.08 millionSexual Assault 10.67 0.19 millionRobbery 12.75 0.67 millionBurglary 1.78 0.84 millionAuto Theft 0.86 135,000Theft 1.19 3.05 million Total: 4.99 million * Estimated from NCVS, 1994
Adult Women with Disabilities Rate Abuse and Violence as #1 Concern % Ranking Issue Top Priority Abuse and Violence 92% Reproductive Health 79% Youth Programs 52% Substance Abuse 52% Aging 37% Child Care 31% Berkeley Planning Associates, 1996 “America’s dirty little secret …violence against the disabled”
What We Know About Violence Against the Disabled • 90% of assailants know their victims • Family, neighbors, bus drivers, care providers, who have regular contact with the victim • thus “stranger-danger” prevention programs are misguided • Two-thirds of sexually assaulted females never told authorities • interviews show they lacked information about who to tell, appropriateness • when did report, 55% were not believed • persons with MR/DD seldom receive sex education -- yet appropriate sex education can reduce incidence • Violence causes MR/DD too • The United Cerebral Palsy Association estimates that 11% of their constituents have cerebral palsy as a result of physical abuse.
Why Are Persons with Disabilities So Vulnerable to Crime? • Segregated from others • Heavy dependence on caregivers, who can exploit them • Praised for their compliance • Easily persuaded or led by others • Impaired judgement • Lack knowledge on how to protect themselves • Live in high risk environments • More often in locations with “motivated offenders” • Not educated on safety, appropriate sexuality, or basic legal rights
A Target Selection Model for Crimes Against the Developmentally Disabled Exposure to Motivated Offenders (Proximity) Person’s “Routine Activities” • Demographics: • Age • Sex • Race • Social Class • Type of Disability • Social Competency • Lifestyle: • Job • Income • Living Situation • Area of Residence • Mobility & transportation Potential “Yield” as Target of Crime (Reward) VICTIM Risk Accessibility (Absence of Capable Guardians)
MR/DD Victims and Non-Victims Differ in “Interpersonal Competence” • Studies shows vulnerability to crime is associated with low scores on “Tests of Interpersonal Competence and Personal Vulnerability (TICPV)” • 20 multiple choice questions • Judgements regarding “friends” (rather than strangers) are most difficult, as well as those with fathers, relatives, boyfriends. • Programs can teach competence & personal safety
Test of Interpersonal Competence and Personal Vulnerability (TICPV) • 14. If a man in uniform asks you to give him all your money, you should, • a) Give it to him because he may be a policeman • b) Say you don't have any • c) Give it to him so he'll go away • 15. If your dad always punches you when he's had a few drinks, you should, • a) Tell someone at work or your doctor • b) Hide from your dad until he's in a better mood • c) Go to the doctor and tell him you fell over • 16. If you go out with someone and they want you to have sex, but you don't want to, you should, • a) Do it anyway so they'll go out with you again • b) Do it, but don't go out with them anymore • c) Say you don't really feel like it and go home
“Safety Zone: Cops Talk”Personal Safety Training Portland, OR Police Department • Goals: • provide safety training and police services awareness so as to avoid crime victimization and criminal offending • increase consumer’s and provider’s knowledge of the CJS (e.g., how to serve as an effective witness) • Police also developed the Disability Alert Registration • voluntary registry listing disabling conditions, communication ability, family phone numbers • Developed self-defense program for women with DD/MR • All officers receive mandated training on disabilities
Even If Reported, Little Justice • Low rates of police follow up, prosecution, and few convictions • If convicted, sentences for crimes against the DD/MR are lighter -- particularly for sexual assault. Why? • difficult investigations, police lack special training • “consent” difficult to establish • negative stereotypes about the DD/MR -- “it doesn’t hurt” • Lack credibility as witnesses, but MR/DD have good memories and may be more reliable (but confused in adversarial proceedings) • DD/MR easily intimidated by CJS and repeated questioning, known perpetrator further intimidates
Why Such Little Interest? • Victims have no ability to advocate on their own behalf • low SES, few communication skills, low intellect • same with most of their families • Some advocates don’t want to publicize -- fear backlash against deinstitutionalization and “normalization” • No one sees it as “their issue” • Criminal Justice System -- low numbers overall, no public pressure • Mental Health -- “judicially” involved belong elsewhere • Researchers/Academics -- hidden population, difficult to study
What To Do For Victims with MR/DD? At A Minimum... • Reduce Victimization • Provide Personal Safety Training • Better screening of those who work with vulnerable populations • Increase Identification of Victims • Educate teachers, physicians, rape counselors, police • Increase Prosecution and Sentencing of Perpetrators • Special Police & Court Procedures (use of videotape, translators, similar to child abuse) • Canada just passed law allowing adults with MR to give evidence via videotape • Conduct Research • “Crime Victims with Disabilities Awareness Act” (Clinton signed 10/98) • National Academy of Sciences study, and add items to National Crime Victims Survey
Violence and Abuse Against Persons with Mental Retardation Joan Petersilia, Ph.D. Professor of Criminology, Law & Society, UCI Member, Mental Retardation Research Center, UCI Co-Chair, Law & Justice Committee, National Research Council
What We Know • Reported child abuse and neglect 2 to 3 X’s higher for children with MR/DD • Persons with MR/DD have 4 to 10 X’s higher risk of being crime victims (particularly sexually assault) • 90% of victims knew their perpetrators, but 2/3rds never told anyone. Higher revictimization rates. • If reported, VERY low rates of police follow-up, prosecution, and few convictions.
Education and Research Sorely Needed • Priorities • Educate justice, medical and social service personnel on identification and processing • Develop safety training programs for MR/DD • Establish victimization prevalence rates for different MR/DD groups • Variations by living setting, phenotype, etc. • Profile perpetrators of the MR/DD population • How they gain access, why they chose
Complex Issue Requires Multidisciplinary Approach • Criminologists, physicians, statisticians, child development, educators, MR/DD specialists are essential • Congress agreed, passed the “Crime Victims with Disabilities Awareness Act” in 1998 • Established National Research Council panel • MRRC support critical • McCleary wrote paper on challenges of measuring victimization in MR/DD • Lott facilitated data analysis, taped NRC presentations • Cluster groups developing around child/dependent adult/elder abuse, victimization in institutions, personal safety programs
MRRC Promotes Productive Collaborations Projects Underway or Planned • Integrated Medical Response Team for dependent adult abuse • Study of the memory of MR/DD adults under simulated court & police questioning conditions • Analysis of State child abuse and neglect reports for children with MR/DD • Assist US Dept of Justice to measure victimization for persons with disabilities • Analysis of the relationship between delinquency and ADHD