The Vermont Defendant Accommodation Project: A Case Study

Philip J. Kinsler, Anna Saxman, Daniel B. Fishman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This article describes the increasing use of the courts and the jails as "institutions of last resort" for multi-problem clients suffering the effects of mental retardation combined with other life challenges, such as mental illness, substance abuse, homelessness, and a history of physical and/or sexual abuse. The authors label these individuals as suffering from "Horrible Life Disorder" (HLD), and characterize them, for the most part, as lacking the comprehension necessary to navigate through the complexities of the court and probation systems. The article describes and evaluates the development of a program, within the Office of the Defender General of the State of Vermont, to (a) identify and accommodate such mentally retarded, HLD clients in the criminal justice system and (b) train public defense attorneys, judges, police, and probation officers to respond more effectively to the special issues of these citizens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-161
Number of pages28
JournalPsychology, Public Policy, and Law
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law

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