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Adult defendants with learning disabilities and the criminal courts

Adult defendants with learning disabilities and the criminal courts Although precise numbers are unknown, it is generally acknowledged that between 5-10% of the offending population are people with learning disabilities. While there are few provisions that explicitly target defendants with learning disabilities there is a general recognition in law that defendants must be able to understand and participate effectively in the criminal proceedings of which they are a part. The implications of the principle of effective participation are that criminal prosecution may be deemed inappropriate for certain defendants with learning disabilities, in which case they may be diverted away from criminal justice and into health care. There is scope for a variety of measures to be put into place to support defendants with learning disabilities to maximise their chances of participating effectively. However, in terms of statutory provision, there is a lack of parity between vulnerable witnesses and vulnerable defendants. Further, the absence of effective screening procedures to identify defendants' learning disabilities means that their support needs often go unrecognised and unmet. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Learning Disabilities and Offending Behaviour Pier Professional

Adult defendants with learning disabilities and the criminal courts

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Publisher
Pier Professional
Copyright
Copyright © 2010 by Pier Professional Limited
ISSN
2042-0927
eISSN
2042-8693
DOI
10.5042/jldob.2010.0416
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Although precise numbers are unknown, it is generally acknowledged that between 5-10% of the offending population are people with learning disabilities. While there are few provisions that explicitly target defendants with learning disabilities there is a general recognition in law that defendants must be able to understand and participate effectively in the criminal proceedings of which they are a part. The implications of the principle of effective participation are that criminal prosecution may be deemed inappropriate for certain defendants with learning disabilities, in which case they may be diverted away from criminal justice and into health care. There is scope for a variety of measures to be put into place to support defendants with learning disabilities to maximise their chances of participating effectively. However, in terms of statutory provision, there is a lack of parity between vulnerable witnesses and vulnerable defendants. Further, the absence of effective screening procedures to identify defendants' learning disabilities means that their support needs often go unrecognised and unmet.

Journal

Journal of Learning Disabilities and Offending BehaviourPier Professional

Published: Jul 1, 2010

Keywords: Learning disabilities

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