Reporting Requirements and Systemic Barriers
There may be a correlation between jurisdictional reporting requirements and the underreporting of abuse committed against persons with disabilities, low arrest rates, and/or ineffective prosecution of offenders.
In addition, some jurisdictions may have systemic barriers, including statutory or evidentiary rules, that prevent equal access to the courts for people with physical, psychological, or intellectual/developmental disabilities. Legislative reform can be a difficult process; however, change may be necessary. The mandatory reporting of abuse and knowledge of abuse reporting requirements are key. In addition, having access to the victim and his or her confidential and privileged information when abuse is reported is integral to understanding the systemic barriers that may impede equal access to the justice system by persons with disabilities.
A prosecution-based multidisciplinary team approach, linking the chief law enforcement officer in the jurisdiction to those partners who have a role in protecting persons with disabilities, can help make jurisdictions aware of the problem and prepare them to address factors that may affect victims' access to the criminal justice system.