Legal Advocate [*] For Victims of Crime with Developmental Disabilities

What are the developmental disabilities?
In Wisconsin, this term includes mental retardation (cognitive disabilities), cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, Prader-Willi syndrome and other neurological disorders.
Why is there a need for a Legal Advocate for people who have developmental disabilities?
Law enforcement officers, district attorneys, victim/witness workers, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, probation and parole personnel, and sexual assault and domestic violence advocates sometimes report difficulty in communicating with victims of crime who have developmental disabilities. There may be confusion regarding how the person understands time or history of events. Due to these and other issues, victims of crime who have developmental disabilities do not usually see outcomes in the criminal justice system commensurate with the rest of the population.
What services does the Legal Advocate offer?
The Legal Advocate (social worker) provides services similar to legal advocates for sexual assault and domestic violence, and has special skills and experience in working with people who have a developmental disability. For the victim of crime who has a developmental disability, the Legal Advocate is additionally available to:
  • Assist criminal justice and auxiliary workers in communicating with the victim.
  • Serve as liaison between the criminal justice and other advocacy systems, and the support people in the lives of the victim, such as family members, guardians, teachers, vocational workers, residential workers, and social workers/case managers/support brokers.
  • Provide support to and information about criminal justice proceedings in a format that is understandable to the victim.
  • Organize auxiliary support for victims such as sexual assault and domestic violence counseling.
  • Provide training to those in the criminal justice and human service systems regarding the unique needs and communication abilities of people who have developmental disabilities.
Who is eligible for this service?
Any adult or child in Dane County who has a developmental disability and is a victim of sexual abuse, domestic violence, financial abuse, or other crimes is eligible for this service free of charge.
Who funds and administers this position?
Teamwork, Inc. contracts with the Legal Advocate through funding provided by Dane County Department of Human Services.
Who is the Legal Advocate for People with Developmental Disabilities and how does one contact her?
Christine White, Legal Advocate, is on-call. Office: (608) 241-4272 Cell: (608) 516-2701 e-mail: christinewhite@ameritech.net.

[*] Not an attorney.