NCCJD Activities

The Arc CEO gives address to Civil Rights Act anniversary event
The Department of Justice Community Relations Service (CRS) contacted NCCJD to request a panelist for an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. On July 14, 2014, The Arc’s CEO, Peter Berns, provided remarks at the White House CRS Session entitled: Civil Rights and Hate Crimes Prevention Act: Impact and Best Practices. Mr. Berns addressed the difficulties of prosecuting hate crimes based on disability, including both the statute’s requirement that the crime be in or affecting interstate commerce, and the lack of criteria for law enforcement officers trying to identify a hate crime because a person has a disability. Because of these difficulties, crimes are often prosecuted as hate crimes based on another protected class—for instance race—and the disability issues are underplayed, reinforcing an environment where attackers feel they can victimize people with disabilities with impunity. CRS has worked with chapters of The Arc in the past regarding hate crime situations. CRS helps local communities address community conflicts and tensions arising from differences and helps communities develop strategies to prevent and respond to violent hate crimes.

NCCJD provides consultation for Vera Institute of Justice’s Blueprint to End Sexual Abuse of Children with Disabilities
NCCJD will be participating in a Vera Institute of Justice Roundtable August 5-6, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio. Vera’s Center on Victimization and Safety is working in partnership with the Ms. Foundation to create a blueprint for a national strategy to end sexual abuse of children with disabilities and Deaf children. The three-prong approach to the blueprint includes:

  1. Addressing barriers children with disabilities and Deaf children experience when accessing services;
  2. Articulating effective approaches to holding those who sexually abuse children with disabilities accountable; and
  3. Identifying/developing disability-informed primary prevention tactics that account for the unique dynamics in the lives of children with disabilities.

This is part of NCCJD’s continued partnership with Vera to effectively address this issue, especially as it relates to children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. NCCJD previously provided consultation for Vera’s issue brief on this important topic.

The Arc Applauds Stay of Execution of Robert Campbell, Vows to Continue Legal Advocacy Efforts
NCCJD is grateful that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Supreme Court’s ruling, saving Robert Campbell’s life. While we can appreciate justice being served, we were far too close to witnessing a grave miscarriage of justice. There are still many questions surrounding this trial, and we hope to hear answers as to why evidence regarding Mr. Campbell’s IQ was withheld until very recently. In a life or death situation, it is disturbing that all the facts were not being presented.

NCCJD provides written testimony for Senate hearing
On April 29, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), the Senate’s Assistant Majority Leader and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights, chaired a hearing entitled “Law Enforcement Responses to Disabled Americans: Promising Approaches for Protecting Public Safety.” Because of inadequate social and mental health services, law enforcement officers have increasingly become the first responders for individuals with mental illness or intellectual/developmental disabilities who are in crisis. Recent high-profile tragedies demonstrate the need for law enforcement officers to receive additional training to safely address these situations. NCCJD provided written testimony, as did a number of NCCJD’s National Advisory Committee members.