April 18, 2021, the day my life changed forever. That was the day my Autistic son was arrested and incarcerated. He was 23 years old at the time and has now spent two birthdays behind bars. His charges are a direct manifestation of his disability. His desire to “fit in” and feel accepted and liked by his peers made him a target to be easily manipulated by others more socially savvy than his disability allowed of him.
He was forced into a plea deal that he did not even understand and was sentenced to 4 to 10 years in a state correctional institution and 25 years on The Registry. We were denied by the prosecuting DA to speak of my son’s disability in the courtroom. We were literally threatened that if we did, the plea deal would be pulled at the day of his sentencing.
While incarcerated at the county level, other inmates threatened to “beat my son to death”. I made a call to Adult Protective Services. Their agency connected me to the Warden of the jail, and he was able to put my son into protective custody to keep him safe.
Prior to his incarceration, my son was able to hold a full-time job and was saving up the money to go to college. Sadly, that money had to be spent on hiring an attorney due to all the trumped-up charges my son was facing. My son has a heart of gold and loves nothing more than helping others. He has been able to obtain a job as an Aid at his current SCI. Now I can only pray that he will be able to gain employment when he is released from prison.
I know the road ahead is long, and because he is still currently incarcerated, we haven’t felt the full effects that being forced to register will bring upon him and our family. In a world that was already difficult for him to navigate because of his disability, he will now carry the burden of the unnecessary registry. During this time, I will remain hopeful and advocate for change to the best of my ability. He is my son, he is a PFR, and I love him!
Are you a person forced to register or a friend/family member to one? Tell your story here.