Marilyn Armour, Ph.D.
Crime against people with disabilities is a largely invisible and unaddressed problem. Although research abroad shows that people with disabilities are 4 to 10 times more likely to be a victim of crime, neither the Uniform Crime Reports nor the Bureau of Justice Statistics measures crime against those with disabilities. Little is known, therefore, about the prevalence, manifestation, and consequences of the issue. The purpose of this state-wide survey is to gather information on the criminal victimization of people with disabilities in Texas.
The aims of the study are as follows:
- to compare groups of respondents on the basis of demographic characteristics, residency, disability type, and crime type.
- to examine relationships between risk factors, (e.g. need for personal assistance, new U.S. arrival) and crime type, criminal justice treatment, and incident outcome?
- to examine relationships between criminal justice experiences and disability onset, disability type, crime type, and psychological consequences.
- to examine relationships between post-crime assistance and disability onset, disability type, crime type, residency, and psychological consequences.
Data was collected by an anonymous 38-item survey in English and Spanish available on-line. Over 100 agencies in Texas that serve adults with disabilities will be contacted and asked to inform their clients about the survey. Survey items cover demographic information, living arrangements, crime history, experience with the criminal justice system, and post-crime assistance, psychological reactions, and personal consequences. Group comparisons of respondents on the basis of demographic characteristics, residency, disability type, and crime type will be made using t tests and one-way analysis of variance. Bivariate correlations will be used to examine the relationships among the study variables. Stepwise multiple regression analysis will be used to determine which variables are significant predictors.
The study is the first state-wide effort to gather information directly from crime victims with disabilities. This knowledge may highlight the needs in Texas of crime victims with disabilities and assist the criminal justice system in Texas in implementing procedures that are more sensitive to the unique needs of this population. Moreover, the knowledge may alert social service, victim assistance and agencies that serve persons with disabilities to develop programs and interventions specific to this population.