Cathy Burks is an AADD Partners in Policymaking graduate, where she received training on how to be an advocate for her son, who has a developmental disability, and others like him. She has also served with the Governor's Council on Disabilities on the Children’s Freedom Initiative in Washington, D.C.
Leigh Honeycutt is a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a BS in Criminal Justice and Behavioral Sciences. She worked previously for the Georgia Department of Human Services.
As Transition Advocates, they will be working with the families, helping them as their loved ones transition into the community by providing training, advocacy and information on community resources “Both have experience as advocates and in working with family members during difficult transitions,” said Monica Manns, Transition Project Manager at AADD.Their other role will be to recruit and train law enforcement officials. “We are very appreciative of the positive response that Georgia law enforcement has shown for our Crisis Intervention Training, and the clear message we have received is that they would like more, particularly in south Georgia,” said Crandall Heard, AADD’s Justice and Developmental Disabilities Project Manager. “Cathy and Leigh will be dedicated exclusively to serving law enforcement in the Thomasville and South Georgia area.”
Heard added: “They both bring passion, energy and a deep knowledge base to advocating on behalf of those with developmental disabilities so that they are better served and afforded every opportunity when encountering the justice system and government agencies.”
Burks and Honeycutt will be training law enforcement agencies, judges, and attorneys on how to accurately identify persons with developmental disabilities to better ensure proper due process. Developmental disability traits which can be problematic in police situations include:
• Problems understanding Miranda warnings, which are written at a seventh grade level
• Answering leading questions with the implied answers regardless of fact
• Reacting badly to touch, loud noises or bright lights
• Refusal to make eye contact or answer questions
• Difficulty phrasing responses, or even difficulty speaking
AADD has trained more than 2,000 law enforcement officials, judges, and attorneys on developmental disabilities, in 86 counties throughout the state. The CIT training offers best practices when encountering individuals with disabilities in the criminal justice system and covers:
• Recognizing different developmental disabilities
• Communication techniques to de-escalate the encounter
• Understanding that those with developmental disabilities are five to ten times more likely to be victims of crimes
• Considering alternatives to incarceration in situations where a community resource would better serve the individual
Developmental disabilities are defined as severe chronic disabilities that limit three or more critical functional abilities. Examples include Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, autism disorders, fetal alcohol disorders and intellectual disabilities. These disabilities often manifest early in life (before age 18) and last a lifetime.
All About Developmental Disabilities
Founded in 1956,All About Developmental Disabilities (AADD) is an Atlanta-based non-profit organization dedicated to creating lifelong support, education and opportunities for children, adults and families living with developmental disabilities. AADD provides support services, advocacy and training to families living with developmental disabilities.
Georgia relies on a disjointed system of services and support that cannot be sustained long-term. Economic uncertainties are reducing funding support, even as the number of people in need increases. AADD offers a range of services focusing on Family Support, Public Policy and Advocacy and Community Engagement. For more information, go towww.AADD.org.