In the developmental disability system, you can basically be sentenced and convicted of crimes, and they don’t even pretend due process is a thing. Some of the crimes are actual crimes, some are not. But they can write them in your permanent file on the strength of gossip alone. And then they can decide what to do to you for it. There is no trial. They don’t even pretend. Their word about you and about what to be done about you is law.
I once got pissed at a lady who was running a self-advocacy group. She was technically not running it, she was facilitating it. But many nondisabled facilitators run the self-advocacy group and tell people with developmental disabilities what we should be doing. They control us. And that’s what i saw her doing, and that’s what pissed me off.
If you want to know more about the way facilitators can control us in self-advocacy groups, read Dave Hingsburger’s article “Cutting the Strings: Suggestions for Self-Advocacy Groups”. It is available in this PDF link from the Green Mountain Self-Advocates 2010 Handbook. It starts on page 120.
Anyway, I saw her doing this. I got pissed. We got in an argument. My staff person was there with me the whole time.
I found out the next day that there were Things written in my file.
Thing #1: AWOL
Thing #2: Hitting the facilitator hard in the upper arm.
Thing #3: Trespassing
What actually happened was that I got pissed and walked out of the room. I came close to her but did not hit her or make a move to hit her. (There were witnessses, too.) Because of the way movement works for me, my legs carried me all the way across a street until I bumped into someone’s fence in that driveway.
I didn’t actually hit her.
AWOL, Absent WithOut Leave, is a weird term to apply to an adult. I was unaware I needed leave to walk out of a room for any reason whatsoever.
And in the state of California, walking up someone’s driveway and bumping into their fence is not trespassing.
My staff person, who was there the whole time, defended me to the Regional Center and said none of these things had happened.
My staff person was labeled ‘renegade staff’.
They can write anything about you. And what they write can change what kind of manipulation and behavior programs you’re subject to, as well as take you out of your own home and put you in a group home or other institution.
So if someone doesn’t like you challenging their power, they have the ability to throw that power around by accusing you of crimes. They don’t have to prove you did anything.
Office gossip about clients can also end up in our files, permanently. We are not always told what is in our files.
But bottom line, in the DD system, you can be charged, convicted, and sentenced for real or imaginary crimes. Without a trial. Without even being told.