Juvenile Justice

Juvenile Justice

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Disability Rights Center – NH is working toward ending inadequate treatment and discrimination of individuals with disabilities in the adult corrections system. We represent a limited number of inmates who have specific questions related to their disability, such as access to assistive devices or for treatment for Hepatitis C. The DRC does not take cases relating to general medical care, or provider or treatment choice.

Youth with Mental Illness and the Juvenile Justice System, an article in the Spring 2013 issue of the RAP Sheet, by Michael Skibbie, DRC Policy Director

Sununu Youth Services Center investigations

What probation officers need to know about learning disabilities, from the Pacer Center

The Council of State Governments Justice Center: Youth

Justiceworks at UNH

The National Center on Education, Disability and Juvenile Justice

The National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice

National Juvenile Defender Center

Juvenile Law Center

Are Zero Tolerance Policies Effective in the Schools? A report by the American Psychological Foundation

National Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Children and Youth who are Neglected, Delinquent, or At-risk

The Juvenile Justice Resource Hub

The DRC does not handle criminal cases.

Other Places to Go For Legal Help:
New Hampshire Bar Association has a lawyer referral program.
New Hampshire Public Defender
NH Department of Justice Victim Resources

Know Your Rights

Policy Work – Juvenile Justice 
For years, New Hampshire has incarcerated children for less serious offenses than the country as a whole, and kept them away from their communities for longer.  Over 70% of children committed to the Sununu Youth Services Center (formerly YDC) have emotional or other disabilities. During the 2013 session, DRC was instrumental in creating statutory standards and procedures which make it more difficult to remove non-dangerous children from their homes and which favor rehabilitation in community settings. Kevin Landrigan, a reporter for the Nashua Telegraph characterized the statutory changes as the most significant juvenile reforms in 30 years.

Individual Advocacy – Accommodations in prison
2004: NH State Prison Access/Accommodation Case Settles

The Law

A Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual: Rights of Prisoners with Disabilities, from The Columbia Human Rights Law Review

The Disabilities Rights Center, Inc. recently reached a favorable settlement on behalf of a disabled inmate at the New Hampshire State Prison, Donald Riopel. The suit involved numerous violations of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the U.S. Constitution.

Prior to his incarceration at the N.H. State Prison in October of 2001, Mr. Riopel was in an automobile accident that resulted in severe burns over much of his body, the amputation of his right arm below the elbow, and the loss of complete mobility. Mr. Riopel requires the use of an arm prosthesis and a power wheelchair.

Mr. Riopel alleged in his suit that during his incarceration, his prosthetic arm was taken away from him and on several occasions, he was permitted only a manual wheelchair, which he cannot maneuver with only one arm. For periods of time, Mr. Riopel was housed in a maximum security cell with no accessible toilet or shower. Without the benefit of basic grab bars, with only one arm and without being able to rely on his legs, Mr. Riopel suffered several falls and injuries from attempting to transfer himself from his wheelchair to the toilet.

This was an important case for disabled inmates because it highlighted the fact that legitimate security concerns cannot disregard basic human dignities, but must be balanced to protect humanitarian principles. As a result of the suit, the State is now better able to accommodate its disabled population. For example, the prison now has a cell in the maximum security unit that is equipped with grab bars to assist inmates in wheelchairs with transferring from the chair to the toilet. Likewise, there is now a maximum security shower unit that is accessible to inmates in wheelchairs.

Since resolving this suit, Mr. Riopel completed his sentence and has moved out of state. His willingness to bring this action and these issues to the attention of the State enabled the Department of Corrections to improve the accessibility of the housing units, which will benefit many other persons with disabilities in the prison.

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If You Need Help

Contact us if your think your employment rights have been violated or if you wish to speak with an attorney about a disability-related legal issue.

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