LC Journal of Special Education


This paper will explore the adaptive components of ID as expressed by Greenspan (2003; 2006)—vulnerability/suggestibility, gullibility, naiveté, one’s desire to please and a cloak of competence. These and other adaptive characteristics provide strong evidence that individuals with ID are more vulnerable than typically developing persons; and these characteristics can be problematic for individuals with ID who may encounter entities from the criminal justice system. Furthermore, existing research indicates that there are a disproportionate number of individuals with ID represented within the criminal justice system. Between 4% and 10% of the prison population are individuals with ID (Petersilia, 2000). In addition, this paper will review the circumstances and implications of the Atkins v. Virginia case and the effect of the verdict on identifying individuals with ID in the criminal justice system. The paper will provide a short evaluation of the existing evidence on the assessment process and how Atkins v. Virginia effected the identification of individuals with ID in the criminal justice system. This paper also will examine the research on interrogative strategies used by law enforcement officials and the problems these tactics can have on individuals with ID. Additionally, a synthesis of the current research that suggests training and instructional planning strategies for professionals working with individuals with ID will be provided. This research review will contribute to and integrate the existing body of literature about the effects of various adaptive behaviors on individuals with ID and how these deficits can be problematic when these individuals face the criminal justice system. This paper will conclude with a discussion that summarizes major themes and provides considerations for equal treatment of individuals with ID in the criminal justice system.