12-13 September 2018, New Adelphi Building, the University of Salford
There is a growing recognition of ASD within the criminal justice system. There is increased recognition that the ability to negotiate the criminal justice process may be particularly complex and difficult for individuals with ASD. This can be exacerbated by the hidden nature of their impairments in that their relatively good verbal abilities may mask their underlying socio-communicative impairments.Therefore, when being interviewed by police or while being questioned during court proceedings, vulnerabilities in adults are not always identified.
Additionally, Mayes (2003) and Freckelton (2012; 2013) argue that some autism traits almost certainly impact on a individual’s fitness to plead, their culpability, their criminal responsibility and also their ability to cope with custodial disposals. Nevertheless, not all Courts take into consideration expert witnesses’ statements regarding the impairments faced by their clients with ASD. Lastly, studies indicate that in the prison environment, individuals with ASD are more vulnerable to bullying and social isolation. However, very few studies to date have investigated this and there has been no empirical investigation, only case reports involving very small samples investigated primarily using questionnaires and/or observation (Allely, 2015).