Now Available!
Elizabeth's new book titled Representing People with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Practical Guide for Criminal Defense Lawyers was just released by the American Bar Association. Topics include:

  • Co-Occurring Disorders
  • Testing
  • Competency
  • Risk of Violence
  • Mitigation.  
Mitigation: Using Community Resources by Jessica Oppenheim, Esq. and Dr. Jeffery Allen in Representing People with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Practical Guide for Criminal Defense Lawyers, Elizabeth Kelley, ed. (ABA 2020).

ADA and Accommodation Issues

As you begin to use all the data you have acquired regarding your client's cognitive and functional capability, the next concern is securing appropriate accommodations for the client in the courtroom and in the jail. If your client is in jail, he/she is entitled to reasonable accommodations and you should consider what is needed to ensure that this person is safe, secure, and able to engage in activities of daily living. A client's disability and need to be in the community may be a basis for a bail motion or (in states such as New Jersey, which have implemented criminal justice reforms to replace bail), a basis for a response to a prosecutor's detention motion. ...

Consider what services, supports, or accommodations your client may need when appearing in court. If the client is sensitive to noise or activity, you should request that the matter be held at the end of the day or that the matter be heard first. This can avoid unnecessary emotional upheaval for a client and improve his/her behavior in the courtroom. Your client may need more time to understand what is being said, so the court and prosecutor may have to wait while you repeat directions and information, possibly more than once and in different ways. Discuss with any available family members, friends, or advocates what technical assistance or reasonable changes to procedures can be made to ensure that your client is able to comprehend the proceeding. Determine whether your court has an ADA coordinator and use that person's services to ensure that the necessary and appropriate accommodations are made.
How New York Plans to Help Mothers With Postpartum Depression
Approximately one in five mothers develops postpartum depression after giving birth. Postpartum depression is a debilitating condition that can have a detrimental effect on the health of a mother and baby. Now New York City is taking steps to help mothers with its New Family Home Visits initiative.

New Family Home Visits Initiative

Chirlaine McCray, the city’s first lady, is behind the city’s effort to address postpartum depression in new mothers. Every first-time parent in New York City will be eligible to receive a total of six in-person visits from mental health professionals. It is unclear whether these visits will change to telehealth in light of COVID-19 concerns. The New Family Home Visits Initiative will begin in Brooklyn later this summer and expand to the rest of the city by 2024. There are similar programs in Chicago and Durham, but New York City’s will be the largest once it ramps up. 
Elizabeth Kelley
Criminal Defense Attorney
Elizabeth Kelley is a criminal defense lawyer with a nationwide practice specializing in representing people with mental disabilities. She is the co-chair of The Arc's National Center for Criminal Justice and Disability, serves on the American Bar Association’s Commission on Disability Rights, Criminal Justice Section Council, and Editorial Board of the Criminal Justice Magazine Learn more.
Further Reading
Amid Black Lives Matter protests, advocates seek pardon for autistic Black man convicted in 2010
“Generally speaking, we as criminal defense attorneys know that the longer someone is subject to court-ordered supervision, the greater the chance that a person is going to commit a technical or a substantive violation… In the case of this young man, the collateral consequences of his conviction are unfortunately probably going to haunt him forever.”
– Elizabeth Kelley
As protests against racism and police brutality continue in cities around the country, the 10-year-old case of an autistic Virginia man convicted of assaulting an officer highlights the issues disabled Black people in particular face in the justice system as advocates petition for him to receive a full pardon.
This town of 170,000 replaced some cops with medics and mental health workers. It's worked for over 30 years
Around 30 years ago, a town in Oregon retrofitted an old van, staffed it with young medics and mental health counselors and sent them out to respond to the kinds of 911 calls that wouldn't necessarily require police intervention.

In the town of 172,000, they were the first responders for mental health crises, homelessness, substance abuse, threats of suicide -- the problems for which there are no easy fixes. The problems that, in the hands of police, have often turned violent.

Today, the program, called CAHOOTS, has three vans, more than double the number of staffers and the attention of a country in crisis.
Intoxicating highs and deep darkness: living and loving with bipolar disorder
Every day I find myself fighting against my own instincts. This is a message to my husband – and everyone who has loved someone with mental illness.

When you look at me, you may not see anything out of the ordinary. Too much hair. Broad shoulders. Normal height. Normal weight. Normal eyes, normal mouth, normal nose, normal face. Five fingers, five toes, two arms, and two legs that are a bit too short.
What the A.D.A. Means to Me
We asked the disability rights activists Judy Heumann, Alice Wong and Haben Girma to reflect on the 30th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act. They said the work of a civil rights activist is never done.

I was 18 months old when my parents learned I had polio. It was 1949, and things that were typical for children were not so typical for me. I was denied the right to go to school because the staff did not know how to accommodate a student who could not walk. Instead, I received just two-and-a-half hours of home instruction each week. People like me who did not fit into a neat little box had no laws to protect them. We were not advancing in our education and no one had expectations for our futures.
One Man's COVID-19 Death Raises The Worst Fears Of Many People With Disabilities
What Melissa Hickson says happened to her husband — and what the hospital says — are in conflict.

But this much is for sure: Michael Hickson, a 46-year old quadriplegic who'd contracted COVID-19, died at St. David's South Austin Medical Center in Austin, Texas, on June 11 after the hospital ended treatment for him and moved him from the intensive care unit to hospice care.
Psychiatrist: America's 'Extremely Punitive' Prisons Make Mental Illness Worse
Psychiatrist Christine Montross has spent years treating people with serious mental illnesses — sometimes in hospitals, other times in jails or prisons.

"The patients that I was seeing in my hospital were indistinguishable many times from the men and women that I was evaluating in jail," Montross says. "But the environments were so markedly different. One [is] charged with ... trying to help and heal, and the other [is] really designed to control and punish."
FREE E-Book! Families' Guide to Working with a Criminal Defense Lawyer

When your family member with a mental disability has been arrested or charged with a crime, it can be a confusing and challenging experience that leaves you unsure of where to turn for answers. Here are some key things families can do to help the defense attorney handling their case.
Representing People with Mental Disabilities: A Criminal Defense Lawyer's Best Practices Manual

Elizabeth’s book, Representing People with Mental Disabilities was published by the American Bar Association a little over a year ago. Response to the book has been overwhelming with many attorneys and activists happy to have such a resource.Topics include Competency, Sanity, Neuroimaging, False Confessions, and Prison Conditions.