Developmentally Disabled Offenders: Issues in Developing and Maintaining Services

DOI10.1177/003288558606600104
Published date01 April 1986
Date01 April 1986
Subject MatterArticles
19
Developmentally
Disabled
Offenders:
Issues
in
Developing
and
Maintaining
Services
Ruth
J.
Rockowitz*
*The
author
is
director
of
the
Developmentally
Disabled
Offender
Project,
Rochester,
New
York.
Almost
everyone
decries
the
fact
that
jails
and
prisons
are
warehousing
society’s
misfits,
including
developmentally
disabled
people.
John
might
be
a
typical
example.
He
is
24
years
old
and
well
known
to
both
the
criminal
justice
system
and
the
developmentally
disabled
service
system.
When
he
was
an
adolescent,
his
be-
havior
became
unmanageable.
Always
allowed
to
&dquo;do
his
own
thing&dquo;
by
his
parents,
he
had
dropped
out
of
special
education
pro-
grams
and
mostly
just
&dquo;hung
around.&dquo;
Before
he
left
school,
his
intelligence
had
been
measured
at
between
60
and
65.
John
then
began
physically
abusing
his
mother
when
she
attempted
to
place
limits
on
his
behavior.
Finally,
his
parents
petitioned
to
have
him
placed
in
a
state
institution
for
mentally
retarded
people.
He
re-
mained
there
for
five
years
and
did
well
in
a
structured
residential
program,
but
was
repatriated
to
his
home
and
community
at
the
age
of 21.
Soon
after
that,
his
mother
died,
and
his
father,
consumed
by
guilt
about
the
institutionalization
and
for
the
loss
of
his
wife,
let
John
do
as
he
wished.
What
John
wished
to
do
included,
buying
marijuana
from
an
undercover
officer,
selling
his
hearing
aid,
stealing
merchandise
at
a
local
plaza
and
then
openly
displaying
the
radios
he
took
in
that
same
plaza
the
next
day,
and
making
obscene
phone
calls
and
bragging
about
them
while
giving
his
name
and
phone
number.
What
John
did
not wish
to do
was
to
become
involved
in
any
intense
or
structured
program
of
habilitation,
even
if
and
agency
would
have
taken
him.
John
is
only
one
example
of
someone
who
may
be
a
develop-
mentally
disabled
offender;
he
is
now
residing
in
the
county
jail
awaiting
legal
action
for
driving
a
stolen
car
without
a
license
and
while
intoxicated.
When
thinking
about
issues
in
developing
and
maintaining
services
for
the
developmentally
disabled
offender,
it
is
helpful
to
remember
John
and
his
situation.
The
issues
and
obstacles
that
need
to
be
addressed
to
deal
with
John’s
current
situation
and,
at
the
same
time,
to
prevent
his
many
repeat
visits
to
jail
are
numerous.
But
to
simplify
the
dis-
cussion,
there
are
four
major
areas
that
need
attention:
definition

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