This month, six chapters of The Arc each received a $2,000 Pathways to Justice™ grant from The Arc of the U.S. Funded by DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, The Pathways to Justice program was initiated in 2013 by The Arc’s National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability® (NCCJD) with the goal of developing strong and lasting relationships between criminal justice professionals and the disability community. These partnerships then work together to close gaps in services experienced by people with disabilities and their families at all stages in the criminal justice system. This year’s recipients are The Arc of New Mexico; The Arc of Texas; Berkshire County Arc (MA); The Arc of Loudoun County (VA); The Arc of Ventura County (CA); and The Arc of Winnebago, Boone and Ogle Counties (IL).
The Pathways to Justice training focuses on three target audiences: law enforcement, victim service providers, and attorneys. Using evidenced-based models and promising practices from the mental illness and victim advocacy fields (such as establishing a Disability Response Team), the program raises participant awareness of intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and urges communities to find solutions together. Upon completion of the one-day training, criminal justice and disability professionals, people with disabilities and others work together to begin creating site-specific, holistic solutions to challenges their community faces when their citizens with disabilities enter the criminal justice system as either victims or defendants/suspects/offenders.
Piloted at five chapters of The Arc between 2013-2014, NCCJD incorporated rich feedback to create an effective tool. Chapters commented on how important it was to be able to bring the different criminal justice professionals together in one room to discuss the topic. In some localities, this had never happened before. The Arc of Spokane’s staff commented, “NCCJD and Pathways to Justice provided the format to make connections and create working relationships with criminal justice professionals and disability advocates. Building our Disability Response Team out of these connections has allowed us to begin identifying and filling the gaps in our criminal justice system for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
Leigh Ann Davis, The Arc’s Program Manager for Justice Initiatives, commented, “NCCJD is excited to award our 2016-2017 Pathways to Justice grantees. Some chapters are already addressing this issue in creative ways, but this funding will deepen our capacity to advocate for a population of people who often have literally nowhere else to turn for help. These trainings not only teach the tools criminal justice professionals need, but also inspires police, attorneys and victim advocates to support people with disabilities, enabling them to access critical supports and services at a time when they need them the most.”
Congratulations to all the recipients! With your help, we will continue to strengthen our criminal justice system to serve and protect people with I/DD.