Criminal Justice Perceptions of Criminal Behavior and Responsibility of Offenders with High-Functioning Autistic Spectrum Disorders
Some academic evidence has shown that individuals with High Functioning Autistic Spectrum Disorders (hfASDs) are overrepresented in forensic populations compared to the general population, and the presentation of some hfASD symptoms can also lend itself to potential criminal actions. Although offenders with hfASDs are overrepresented in the criminal justice system, there has been hardly any research done on offenders with hfASDs, as well as how they are viewed and handled within the criminal justice and legal systems. Additionally, hfASDs, which are genetic developmental disorders, fall in a forensic grey area between how the criminal justice and legal systems have traditionally treated mental illness and how these same criminal justice and legal actors are beginning to comprehend and react to new research and discussion on potential biological and genetic origins and/or predispositions to antisocial and/or criminal behavior.
This multi-part project intends to explore perceptions of different criminal justice actor groups regarding the behavior, crimes, responsibility and free will of offenders with hfASDs, the possible genetic and social stigmas associated with hfASDs, and ultimately aims to create a forensic mental model of hfASDs for actors in the criminal justice and legal systems. The populations I am specifically focusing on are jury members and judges. The parts of this project consist of (1) a comprehensive mock jury case-study survey, and (2) a case-study survey of and interviews with California Superior Court Judges. As an additional third part of the project, I also hope to conduct interviews with expert witnesses with specialties in Asperger's Syndrome and/or Autistic Spectrum Disorders in the future.
Colleen M. Berryessa, Lauren C. Milner, Nanibaa' A. Garrison, Mildred K. Cho. (2015). Impact of Psychiatric Information on Potential Jurors in Evaluating High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (hfASD). Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disabilities. DOI: 10.1080/19315864.2015.1040176. PDF>>
Colleen M. Berryessa. (2014). Judiciary Views on Criminal Behaviour and Intention of Offenders with High-Functioning Autism. Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour. Vol. 5, Issue 2. PDF>>
Colleen M. Berryessa. (2014). Judicial Perceptions of Media Portrayals of Offenders with High Functioning Autistic Spectrum Disorders. International Journal of Criminology and Sociology Vol. 3: 46-60. PDF>>
Colleen M. Berryessa. "How Are Judges Influenced by the Genetics of Autism in the Courtroom?" Oral paper presentation on “Biosocial Criminology: Research, Theory, and Use in the Criminal Justice System” panel at the American Society of Criminology Annual Meeting (November 2014).
Colleen M. Berryessa. "Judicial Perceptions of Punishment, Sentencing and Incarceration Concerning Offenders with Autistic Spectrum Disorders." Oral paper presentation at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Annual Meeting (February 2014).
Colleen M. Berryessa. "Jury Perceptions of Criminal Offenders with High Functioning Autistic Spectrum Disorders (hfASDs)." Oral paper presentation at the American Society of Criminology Annual Meeting (November 2013).
Colleen Berryessa, CIRGE Program Manager (former)