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Developmental disabilities 

Developmental disabilities
Developmental disabilities

Barbara E. McDermott

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date: 17 January 2020

While the purpose of the correctional system is multi-faceted, including punishment and removal of the offender from society, one component is rehabilitation. With no offender does this seem more relevant than those with developmental disabilities. Although the research is inconsistent, most studies suggest that offenders with developmental delays commit less serious offenses, yet serve more time in prison than offenders without such delays. Opinions are mixed on whether appropriate services for such individuals should be provided on specialized units. Proponents of this approach cite the vulnerabilities of these offenders. However, all agree that specialized services must include appropriate assessment that takes into account culture and individualized approaches to habilitation. It cannot be presumed that services designed for the individual with mental illness will be appropriate for inmates with developmental disabilities. Little research has been conducted on the efficacy of specialized services for offenders with developmental disabilities. As such, correctional facilities must necessarily take guidance from research based on non-offender samples. An active collaboration between departments of corrections and agencies providing services for individuals with developmental disabilities can enhance service delivery and improve the integration of the offender into the community. This chapter outlines the progress that has been made in the identification and habilitation of individuals with developmental disabilities in the criminal justice system. Definitions, legal issues, and prevalence rates will be discussed, as well as the vulnerabilities individuals with developmental delays present to the criminal justice system. Finally, screening, management, and habilitation in corrections arising directly from these vulnerabilities are discussed.

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