Autism is not synonymous with dangerousness, in fact,  people with autism  are much more likely to be the victims of a crime than they are the perpetrators.  When people with autism  do come into contact with the juvenile and criminal justice system it is important to view the offense through the lens of autism.  Preventing offenses and improving school and community safety has become a priority for many jurisdictions. Cross-System approaches include law enforcement, school-based providers, outside mental health professionals and service providers to assess risk, determine appropriate countermeasures, and connect vulnerable  youth and adults to pro-social support and services before they engage in criminal activity. This presentation will focus on the vulnerabilities of people with autism once they enter the criminal justice system, cross systems approaches to prevent contact and improve outcomes and provide a first person account from a person who is neurodiverse and their experiences with first responders. 

About the Presenter

Laurie Sperry
Dr. Laurie Sperry is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst- Doctoral and the Director of Autism Services And Programs in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. She has worked as a developer of the Neurodiverse Student Support Program at Stanford University, School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry. Prior to joining Stanford, she was an Assistant Clinical Faculty at Yale University, Department of Psychiatry. She consults with the Behavior Analytics Unit of the FBI on cases involving people with autism. In 2006 she was added to the Fulbright Scholarship’s Senior Specialist Roster for Autism. She moved to Australia in 2010 and worked at Griffith University in the Department of Arts, Education and Law. Her research focuses on people with ASD who come in contact with the criminal justice system to ensure their humane and just treatment. She has served as a Special Interest Group Chairwoman at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) providing mentoring and leadership in the field of criminality and ASD. She has provided training to secure forensic psychiatric facilities across the globe and presented at the International Conference for Offenders with Disabilities. She has published numerous articles and book chapters and was an expert panelist at the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law conference where she spoke on Risk Assessment, Management and ASD. She has completed ADOS evaluations in prisons, has testified as an expert witness in sentencing hearings, has written amicus curiae briefs and participated in cases that have been considered before state supreme courts.
Sammie Wicks
Sammie Wicks is a Senior Program Manager at the National Policing Institute's Center for Mass Violence Response Studies. Prior to working with the National Policing Institute, Sammie served as a law enforcement officer for ten years. He began his law enforcement career with the Memphis Police Department in 2011, where he served in various roles including patrol officer, crisis intervention officer, and community outreach officer. Sammie then served as a police officer with the Aurora Police Department from 2016 to 2021. As a member of the agency's Crisis Response Team, he developed and managed the agency's Targeted Violence Prevention Program. In this role, he partnered with a mental health professional and conducted behavioral threat assessments and individualized pre-criminal psycho-social interventions. Sammie has previously served as a Data and Research Task Force member on the Colorado Governor's Human Trafficking Council. Sammie currently serves as a Colorado Preventing Targeted Violence team member, supporting local threat management teams. Sammie is an affiliate faculty at Metropolitan State, University of Denver in the Criminal Justice and Criminology Department. Sammie's research focuses on transnational organized crime in diaspora communities, terrorist propaganda, and violent social movements. He holds an M.A. in International Security with a Middle Eastern and North African Religious and Political Thought specialization from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. He also holds a B.A. in History from Rhodes College.
Isabelle Morris
Isabelle Morris is an Autistic young adult currently pursuing her Ph.D. in developmental psychology at the University of Minnesota. In 2019, Isabelle earned a B.A.H. in psychology from Stanford University where she was also a coxswain on the Men's Rowing team. Professionally, Isabelle is interested in studying how autistic people understand the mental life of others (because they do!). Her other special interests include rowing and dogs.

Course information

  • Title: ASD and the Criminal Justice System
  • Presenter: Laurie Sperry Ph.D., BCBA-D, MSc Forensic Psych, Sammie Wicks MA, Isabelle Morris MA
  • Duration: 1 hour and 40 minutes
  • Customer Rating: (637)

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