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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Justice Department Issues Guidance Related to Criminal Justice Entities and Individuals with Mental Health or Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals with mental health disabilities or I/DD from discrimination within the criminal justice system. Individuals who work for criminal justice entities, such as police officers and corrections officers, must sometimes make split-second decisions in very dangerous situations. While the ADA can require adjustments to policies, practices, and procedures to accommodate an individual’s disability, what is required in a given situation depends on a variety of factors, including the safety of the officers, the individual with the disability, and the public.

The Justice Department issued guidance this month to facilitate criminal justice entities’ compliance with the ADA during interactions with individuals with mental health disabilities or I/DD. The document sets forth the key regulatory provisions under the ADA and provides examples of how local law enforcement, corrections, and justice systems entities have facilitated compliance with these obligations. The document also provides recommendations for anticipating and preparing for disability-related needs of individuals with mental health disabilities or I/DD by training criminal justice personnel, conducting reviews of policies and procedures, and collaborating with mental health and disability service providers. Lastly, the document provides examples from the Department’s criminal justice enforcement actions and includes links to additional governmental resources.

For a copy of the guidance document or to find out more about the ADA, visit www.ada.gov or call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-0383 (TDD).

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