Thursday, August 21, 2014

Criminalization of Asperger Syndrome

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Criminal Justice Action Committee

The Criminal Justice Action Committee meets the first Wednesday of every month, from 7 to 8:30 PM at Alexian Center for Mental Health, 3350 Salt Creek Lane-Suite #114, Arlington Heights. We are part of the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Barrington Area NAMI Barrington Area (NAMIBA) is a not-for-profit organization that offers programs and services primarily for those in the suburbs near Barrington, Illinois, but we welcome anyone, regardless of where they live or work. NAMI Barrington Area is an affiliate of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Please join us on Wednesday, September 1, 2010. If you have any questions, please call Joseph M. Jason at (847)537-3009 or e-mail him at
The goals of the Criminal Justice Action Committee are: assisting families in crisis with best practice methods of dealing with having a loved one in the legal system, advocating for CIT Training in police departments, educating prosecutors, judges, and public defenders about organic brain disorders, advocating for more mental health courts in Illinois, advocating for proper step down programs(This includes housing and medication, visiting jails/prison in Illinois and seeing firsthand how the mentally ill are treated and give reports), advocating for juvenile justice. This includes adoptive families who make up a disproportionate number in the juvenile courts.

Help us make a difference and join the committee.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Injustice In Iowa

Criminal Justice Action Committee

To: Stephanie Rose: U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa

CC: Honorable Senator Durbin

From: Joseph M. Jason, Vice-President National Alliance on Mental Illness BA and Criminal Justice Action Committee Chairman 06/03/2010

Subject: Daniel S. Jason-Request for New Prosecutor(to replace Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger) and Adoption of Diversion Program

My son Daniel S. Jason has been in jail and prison in Iowa since March of 2007. In May of 2008, he was sentenced to 7 years in prison for stalking his ex-girlfriend and tampering with a witness. Daniel has Asperger Syndrome and severe mental illness. Daniel’s “crimes” were non-violent. Most of his crimes were sending e-mails in violation of an order of protection. Despite concerns raised on Daniel’s mental status by his parents, Daniel was allowed to represent himself in the court proceeding. Daniel was in jail for 14 months before the trial and did not receive any mental health care treatment.

There was an Appeal of the court determination and the decision was released on December 17, 2009. The Court of Appeals determined that there should be a hearing to determine if the court should have prevented Daniel from representing himself.

Prior to sentencing, Daniel’s parents were instrumental in making sure there was a psychiatric evaluation. There was an attempt to have it before the trial, but Judge Hibbs would not allow a continuance. The application was finally granted and Daniel was evaluated by Loren A. Olson, a board certified psychiatrist. This evaluation confirmed the diagnosis that Daniel suffered from Asperger Syndrome. Dr. Olson also opined that Jason’s brain disorder causes an “inability to estimate cognitive, perceptual and affective responses in the lives of others as well as self.” Doctor Olson recommended treatment instead of incarceration and an order to medicate involuntarily if necessary. Prosecutor Minot at the sentencing hearing ridiculed the report and displayed her ignorance of mental illness and Asperger Syndrome and her lack of compassion for organic brain disorders. Joseph M. Jason wrote after the sentencing the following: “The Prosecutor Deborah Minot decided based upon her non-existent psychiatric expertise that Daniel could control his behavior which includes psychosis and obsessive compulsive disorder. This was despite a preponderance of evidence to the contrary including a report from a Psychiatrist, Doctor Olson. She said that Doctor Olson had the longest report she has ever seen and he had taken great pains to diagnose, but then said he was “grasping at straws.” Prosecutor, Ms. Minot openly chastised me at the sentencing for advocating for my son by filing motions for the Court that included material that should be read by the judge. This included many articles on Asperger Syndrome and a position paper that I had prepared. There was no Autism expert present in the Court room.”

Daniel had been in partial hospitalization in the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Oakdale, Iowa. Some time before December 8th, 2009 , Daniel was committed. The court did find that Daniel was disabled to the point that he could not make effective decisions about his mental health care. Dr Sieleni, Mental Health Director of the Iowa Department of Corrections recently wrote “ I realize you and your wife have been very concerned about how he has been doing here and since the commitment he has been taking medication on his own daily and he has done very well. I can point out for you that even though he thought the medication might be helping before the commitment when he took it sporadically, he chose to refuse to take it long term until he was committed. He has not been having the symptoms he had before at all and as a result of that has not had reports within the system. He has made no threats and the issues of self harm that existed before have abated. He is on a low dose of Olanzapine at 2.5 mg a day. The literature supports this type of treatment and your son has responded very well to it. Should he need additional medications or changes we can keep you informed as he does have a release signed to share information with you.”

On December 15th, 2009 the Federal Courts indicted Daniel for making 1 threatening communication to an attorney that he never met. Daniel had been making threats to get attention in his mental state. The attorney who was threatened by Daniel was warned of this via e-mail, but yet she chose to contact the FBI later on. The Justice Department waited a year to indict Daniel. The indictment is a grave injustice and may be a violation of constitutional rights. The prosecutor has admitted that she did not know Daniel was committed when he was indicted. The Department of Justice is seeking to give Daniel another 5 years in prison. As of today, June 1, 2010, the Federal Government still wants to prosecute Daniel despite the fact that they had agreed to move him back to Oakdale in Iowa and give Daniel a diversion if it was proven that he was not violent. Daniel discharged his state charges on May 4, 2010. Daniel’s trial commences on June 14, 2010. I have provided various documentation to the federal prosecutor, Ms. Ebinger and she talked via phone to Doctor Bruce Sieleni who gave powerful persuasive testimony. He is the Mental Health Director of the Iowa Department of Corrections. I also provided the prosecutor treatment options for Daniel when he gets out of prison. A diversion program was given to the prosecutor on March 17, 2010. Much time was spent by me on pursuing programs for Daniel. I have utilized every resource at my disposal. On March 26, 2010 I was told by Anne Laverty via e-mail that “The prosecutor is willing to consider a diversion, provided we can get a doc to evaluate him and provide an opinion that Daniel is not dangerous.”

As painful as it is to see our son incarcerated, the Iowa Department of Corrections was able to do what we could not. That was to commit Daniel and get him regulated on medication. Just as Daniel was improving, he was taken into federal custody and all the gains have been lost. Daniel wrote the letter in question while he was incarcerated and before he was committed as his mental health deteriorated, untreated.

One has to believe that this injustice is not what Senator Durbin had in mind when he chaired The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law and held a hearing on “Human Rights at Home: Mental Illness in U.S. Prisons and Jails” on September 15, 2009.

Mental illness has been criminalized in our country over the last 30 years," Durbin said. "By allowing our prisons and jails to become a primary provider of mental health services, we have taken a step backward in the effort to protect the human rights of people with mental illness."

I am chairman of a NAMI Criminal Justice Action Group and Vice-President of a NAMI affiliate. We want to change this system of not understanding mental illness. There should be treatment instead of incarceration.

I recently at great financial hardship to my family, paid for a highly regarded forensic psychiatrist to evaluate Daniel. This is because the government only pays a nominal amount for an evaluation. I was led to believe that Daniel could get a diversion if there was evidence he was not violent. The report dated June 1, 2010 states Daniel is not violent, but the prosecutor, Ms. Ebinger made her decision without even reading the report. It is also my understanding that contact was made with a probation office to see if they would sign off on a diversion program and they were not given all of the facts.

Doctor Mills has testified in numerous court cases and these include for the government. Doctor Mills stated “Incarceration likewise is counterproductive because time in custody fails to help Mr. Jason acquire the social (and related) skills that he needs in order to become economically self-sufficient, and fails to give him the opportunity to make new, more appropriate social relationships. While time in custody serves the goal of “neutralization,” it does little to provide Mr. Jason, affirmatively, with the skills he will need if he is meaningfully invest in new relationships (and thereby stop his obsessive ruminations about past ones) and become a productive member of society.

Dr. Mills continues “To conclude, you asked me to be completely candid in my assessment of Mr. Jason. I have done so both to honor your request and because I do too many criminal cases, for both sides, to have anything other than respect for the complexities and competing perspectives in such matters generally and in this compelling case, particularly. Still, I would iterate that Mr. Jason’s disorder is real, serious and not of his choosing. Further, his misconduct clearly emanated from that disorder. Given that fact, I would hope that a fair-minded prosecutor balancing these many considerations would be moved by Mr. Jason’s clinical situation and would work with you to find a better alternative than further prosecution and (probably) counterproductive incarceration.

If you wish additional information, please let me know.”

I want to add that Dr. Mills personally told me that my son’s behavior is typical of what you see with people with Asperger Syndrome in the legal system. He said this “case cries out for treatment and not incarceration.”

Daniel’s Attorney stated that last Friday before Memorial Day the prosecutor still wishes to prosecute Daniel. She said it is too late for a diversion. My belief is that the prosecutor should be replaced by one who is versed with mental illness and Asperger Syndrome and can distinguish true criminals(thugs as I was told you call them) from the mentally ill. Daniel’s chances of breaking the law would decrease if he was allowed in the Alexian Brothers outpatient program and psychiatric help and family support..

As chairman of the Criminal Justice Action committee, I have to unequivocally state the decision to prosecute is an injustice that should not be occurring in the United States.

I ask you Ms. Rose to allow Daniel to have a diversion program based upon these facts. Daniel is not a criminal. I am personally requesting that you provide a different prosecutor and meet with my family. Daniel is slated to go to trial on June 14, 2010 and timely action is extremely important.


Joseph M. Jason, Vice-President National Alliance on Mental Illness BA

Chairman of Criminal Justice Action committee