Senate Republican Office
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUSTA – On Monday, March 27, Senator Amy Volk (R-Cumberland) presented LD 665, “An Act To Give the Courts Discretion When a Person with a Developmental Disability Has Been Convicted of a Crime,” to the Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety.
“The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 68 or 1.5% of the population of children in the US is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD),” said Sen. Volk. “People with autism mature more slowly and commonly have challenges with communication and, in particular, social understanding. They may also have unusual reactions to sensory input, frequently demonstrating inappropriate behaviors that may even appear irrational.
“When under stress, they are even less able to communicate effectively, problem solve and understand social cues. These factors increase the likelihood that individuals with ASD, particularly if they are social as teens or young adults, will find themselves involved with the law either as victims or perpetrators of crime.
“A pre-existing diagnosis of a developmental disability, such as autism spectrum disorder, should void any mandatory sentence so that Maine’s law courts can fairly consider all relevant facts, even when there has been a conviction. It is one thing to be tough on crime, but judges must be able to consider all the facts of each case.
“To be clear, LD 665 does not say that people diagnosed with a developmental disability should not be held responsible for their actions. Rather, it seeks to ensure that judges have the flexibility to consider how best to sentence an individual with a pre-existing diagnosis after conviction.”
The work session for LD 665 has been scheduled for Monday, April 3 at 9:00 AM.