The Arc’s Criminal Justice Programs

Note: Some chapters of The Arc listed below have established projects or programs which operate on an ongoing basis, while others have time-limited funding. Many chapters are not listed here, even though they do provide assistance or services for victims and suspects/offenders with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) on a case-by-case basis.

*Denotes state chapter


The Arc Riverside
The Arc has worked closely with public defenders and expert Nora Baladerian, Ph.D. to educate their state about victims and suspects or offenders with I/DD. Together, they worked on a national survey about people with disabilities as victims: To find information about The Arc of Riverside’s criminal justice involvement on their web site, click advocacy, then criminal justice.


The Arc of Aurora
The Arc of Aurora has received federal grant money for successful projects that have been replicated in other states, such as Project Illumination. They provide criminal justice advocacy, specifically with regard to victimization. The chapter partners with Child Advocacy Center and works with other agencies to hold statewide conferences related to criminal justice issues. In its 6th year of publishing, this chapter offers a free monthly e-newsletter called “Vulnerability Trail Newsletter (VTrail)” for advocates working with victims with I/DD. The publication compiles resources helpful in working with victims and articles from around the country on victimization of people with I/DD.

The Arc of Pikes Peak
This chapter offers judicial advocacy via a full time caseworker whose primary focus is on issues that arise when someone with an intellectual or developmental disability becomes involved in the criminal justice issues. They provide training to public defenders, district attorneys and judges and have a strong relationship with the public defender’s office. The chapter reports a 90% dismissal rate of cases for clients they have supported. Services are free of charge and the program operates on a very grassroots level.


The Arc of Louisiana*
The Arc of Louisiana created an online resource to share current and accurate information on legal and disability issues, terminology and available resources between the criminal justice and human service systems. They are developing training for judges and legal professionals about how to identify and communicate with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and how to work with families. This project is a joint effort of The Arc of Louisiana and the ILRU (Independent Living Research Utilization) project to connect legal professionals, human service professionals, advocates, Louisianans with disabilities and their families.


CLASS/The Arc of Greater Lawrence
CLASS/The Arc of Greater Lawrence offers the Specialized Employment Services (SES) program that uses a person centered data-based treatment model to provide vocational training and employment opportunities for adults with developmental, cognitive, mental health, and sex offender- related behaviors. The program uses a staff ratio of 1:4 and emphasizes the therapeutic value of employment for individuals with complex life experiences, psychiatric diagnoses, and behavioral challenges. Their approach incorporates a multi-tiered model of universal expectations for all individuals in the program which includes targeted group contingencies for identified issues and individualized treatment interventions designed to address significantly challenging issues. The SES program is the primary program in Massachusetts serving this particular population.

The Arc of South Norfolk
The Arc of South Norfolk’s Autism & Law Enforcement Education Coalition (ALEC) provides first responders with training necessary to recognize and assist children and adults diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders. ALEC provides training to United States International Airport Fire Departments as well as various fire departments in 12 states throughout the U.S. With the success of the implementation of the ALEC Program throughout Massachusetts and 14 states throughout the U.S., ALEC is looking to expand their scope of services to include additional regions. To date, ALEC has trained over 21,000 First Responders and made the program available through video to the entire New York Fire Department.


The Arc of Maryland*
The Arc of Maryland offers a training program for law enforcement for use throughout the state titled “ASK ME! Law Enforcement Training by People with Developmental Disabilities.”


The Arc Greater Twin Cities
The Arc Greater Twin Cities makes abuse prevention a top priority with their chapter and is working closely with the Ramsey County Sexual Assault Committee, Carver County Sexual Assault Interagency Committee and Hennepin County SMART team to make sure the needs of people with disabilities are served. They offer: access a wealth of research and articles, abuse Prevention training for case managers, direct support staff and others who work with people with disabilities, and "It's Your Choice, Find Your Voice" training designed for adults with disabilities that focuses on how to have safe, healthy relationships and how to speak up about abuse.

North Carolina

The Arc of North Carolina*
While the chapter’s project: Partners in Justice: Bridging the Gap Between the Justice System and People with Cognitive Disabilities is no longer funded, this chapter continues to provide training and resources related to criminal justice issues. Partners in Justice (PIJ) developed numerous training materials for different criminal justice audiences which are all available on their website. None of the materials are copyrighted, but PIJ respectfully requests that its sponsors are noted; materials are available free of charge. During the project period, more than 670 human service workers, 285 attorneys and judges, 640 self-advocates, 563 Law Enforcement Officers, 454 Magistrates, and 69 community corrections and prison social workers were trained by staff using the curricula.

New Jersey

The Arc of New Jersey*
The Criminal Justice Advocacy Program (CJAP) provides alternatives to incarceration on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities who are defendants in the criminal justice system, and is the only program of its kind in New Jersey. The CJAP serves as a clearinghouse for information about offenders with developmental disabilities and serves as a liaison between the criminal justice and human service systems, monitoring the quality of care and services provided to those with developmental disabilities as they move from one system to another. The continuing challenge for the CJAP is to investigate ways in which linkages between these two systems can be established, strengthened and maintained. The chapter recently released a police training video which can be viewed on their web site.

They also produced this flier written for professionals in the CJ system. Also see The Arc of New Jersey's Guide for Attorneys.

Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Who Become Involved in the Criminal Justice System: A Guide For Attorneys
Keywords: Identification; Intellectual Disability; Developmental Disability; Attorney  

This guide is designed to assist attorneys in understanding the possible presence of an intellectual and/or developmental disability in someone involved in the criminal justice system. 


The Arc Greater Cleveland
This resource provides information on two Justice for All programs: Teaching Anger Management to People with Special Needs (AMT) and Standing Tall. AMT is a training program designed to teach methods of controlling anger as well as socially acceptable ways to express anger.  Standing Tall is a peer group that provides a safe environment for individuals with I/DD who have been incarcerated to explore the issues they are experiencing while re-entering the community. This group also provides an opportunity for the participants to build the skills they need to advocate for themselves.


The Arc of Multnomah/Clackamas
This chapter advocates and provides essential information, referral and direct assistance to individuals with I/DD (and their families) who are involved in the criminal justice system as victims, witnesses or suspects. They respond to numerous calls criminal justice related calls each month and provide direct intervention and assistance as needed. Chapter staff serves on the Portland Police Bureau Advisory Committee on Developmental Disability that produced and provides the training program titled, “Safety Zone”. Safety Zone has been in existence for over 15 years and provides mentoring and training directly for people with I/DD about how to appropriately interact with law enforcement.


The Arc of Indiana County
The Arc of Indiana County’s Community Disability Awareness Workgroup (CDAW) started in 2008. One of their Parent Transition groups started the CDAW, and it quickly grew from handful of people to close to 80 people, including the local sheriff’s department, state police, law enforcement, and attorney general. Between 25-30 people attend the monthly meeting which covers issues about people with disabilities in the criminal justice system, primarily focused within Indiana County. Other focus groups have been formed as well, including the Partnership for Protection support team that intercedes in certain cases involving Special projects committee – develop information sheets.

The Quality of Life (QOL) Curriculum: Building Healthy Selves, Forming Healthy Relationships
Key words: Relationships; Sexuality; Self-esteem; Families; Puberty 

Created by Michelle Garcia Psy.D., and Brandon Delgado, M.A. and made possible by the Arc of Blair County (PA), this curriculum is designed to teach and strengthen  abilities ranging from practicing appropriate social skills and building relationships to understanding changes during puberty and expressing sexuality. 

South Carolina

Effective Solutions to South Carolina’s Juvenile Justice Crisis: Safety, Rehabilitation, and Fiscal Responsibility
Keywords:  Juvenile; Delinquency; Fiscal Responsibility  

This report is a call to action to address the long-standing problems in how we treat juveniles charged with crimes and to set South Carolina on a path towards building a model juvenile justice system—a system that reduces crime by rehabilitating youth accused of crimes, keeps youth and juvenile justice staff safe, and more efficiently spends taxpayer money. 


The Arc of the Capital Area
The Arc’s Juvenile Justice Service program (JJS) works directly with the local education system to provide case management, advocacy and support to juveniles who are diagnosed with an intellectual or developmental disability (ages 11-17) who are involved in, or at risk of becoming involved in, the criminal justice system.

West Virginia

The Arc of Mid-Ohio Valley
This chapter provides training programs for first responders and law enforcement, and are currently developing training materials on the topics of abuse & neglect/self-Protection, Olmstead, and civil/human rights initiatives for local school systems.


A number of chapters that provide training, education and advocacy related to criminal justice issues also produce excellent videos.

See videos

Chapters-Only Listserv

NCCJD has created an email listserv, open only to chapters of The Arc, to provide a platform for chapters to share with each other about criminal justice & disability issues, and their activities. To request to join the listserv, email Jon Brown.