The Arc’s National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability is developing resources
for people caught up in the criminal justice system. We have been working with
them on cases here in Illinois and the Center has been a valuable resource. A new
video and curriculum has been developed for you to start the conversation on this
important issue.


Justice Can Seem Insurmountable – New Pathways to Justice™ Introduction
Video Aims to Help People with I/DD Navigate Daunting System

“Too many times people with disabilities come into contact with the criminal justice
system and the outcome is anything but just.”

The opening words of a new video created by The Arc’s National Center on Criminal
Justice and Disability (NCCJD), the Pathways to Justice Introduction Video,
powerfully highlight the broad lack of justice for people with disabilities within
America’s criminal justice system. This four and a half minute video introduces the
Pathways to Justice Model, and integral part of the Pathways to Justice training
program being piloted by five chapters of The Arc. The Pathways to Justice Training
Curriculum helps build the capacity of the criminal justice system to effectively identify,
serve, and protect people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), many
of whom have “mild” disabilities that often go unnoticed among criminal justice
professionals without appropriate training. The video points out why communities
should seek additional training for criminal justice professionals.

Navigating the criminal justice system, as a suspect, offender, witness, or victim, is
daunting for anyone. For people with I/DD and their families, there can be
insurmountable obstacles to obtaining justice. The new Pathways to Justice
Introduction Video highlights specific cracks in the criminal justice system through the
telling of real life stories by people with disabilities and by their family members.

Take James’ story. James Meadours is a powerful self-advocate with intellectual
disabilities who experienced multiple victimizations throughout his life—without anyone
every knowing. As an adult, James was raped in his own apartment. He found the
courage to reach out for help, leading to the successful prosecution of his attacker
and the revelation that there had been multiple victimizations throughout James’ life.
While this story ended positively with the attacker held accountable for the crime and
James empowering others with his self-advocacy, society overall must do a better job
creating safer lives in the community for people with disabilities. Research supports the
fact that multiple victimizations are quite common among people with disabilities—this
is unacceptable. James did not have to suffer in silence alone for so many years, we
as a society can do better.
Using the Pathways to Justice Model, NCCJD aims to build collaborative relationships
within the criminal justice and disability professions, creating solutions to identify,
prevent, and stop injustices faced by people with disabilities. The Pathways to Justice
Introduction Video debuted at The Arc’s National Convention in New Orleans with
positive reviews, and was played at The Arc of North Carolina’s State Convention the
following week. Chapters have already begun requesting copies to take to local law
enforcement and criminal justice professionals as a way to effectively demonstrate the
need for quality training on disability issues.

NCCJD wants you to help bridge gaps in your community’s criminal justice system. If
we’re truly going to stop injustice in our nation’s criminal justice system against people
with disabilities, we must take action. Get involved by:

  • Sharing the video: Use the conversation guide and the Pathways to Justice
    to begin a collaborative effort in your community. Let others in your state
    or community know about NCCJD as a reliable and trusted resource funded by
    the U.S. Department of Justice, and use the video to educate the criminal
    justice community about the need for effective training on disability issues.
  • Using NCCJD as a resource: NCCJD provides technical assistance and
    information & referral regarding a broad range of criminal justice issues. If you
    have a question involving the criminal justice system and someone with a
    disability use our online form.
  • Putting your state’s resources on the map: If there is a great resource in your
    area that we should know about, tell us! Visit the state map site to learn more:

While obtaining justice seems insurmountable at times, the National Center on
Criminal Justice and Disability is committed to working with parents, professionals,
self-advocates, and other advocates to create pathways to justice for all people with

Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)
815-464-1832 (CELL)