History of The Arc’s Criminal Justice Initiatives

Since The Arc’s inception over sixty years ago, The Arc has played key advocacy roles in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), and this is also true with regard to helping victims, suspects or defendants obtain justice at the local, state, national and international levels. The Arc was the first national I/DD organization in the U.S. to formally address inequities in the criminal justice system affecting people with these types of disabilities.

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For well over forty years, The Arc has taken on the challenges that can occur when people with I/DD are involved, or at risk of involvement in, the criminal justice system. Chapters of The Arc have assisted countless police officers, victim advocates, lawyers, first responders and other criminal justice professionals, and people with I/DD in addressing difficult issues faced by those with I/DD and their families who find themselves in a criminal justice system that doesn’t understand the disability, even when the desire to help is present.

The Arc continues seeking innovative, creative and cost-effective ways to support this often ignored, unseen and forgotten segment of society: people with intellectual disabilities as victims, suspects and offenders. One of The Arc’s core values highlights why the issue of people with (I/DD) in the criminal justice system remains high on our list of priorities: “The Arc believes that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are entitled to the respect, dignity, equality, safety and security accorded to other members of society, and that they are equal before the law.”