At The Arc of Riverside County, we understand that people with developmental disabilities who encounter the justice system face challenges that others may not; this is why individuals like William “Billy” Edwards plays a crucial role in our advocacy efforts.
Billy, a Board Member for The Arc of Riverside County and Los Angeles County public defender, is also a former member of the prestigious President’s Committee on People with Developmental Disabilities. Only 21 citizen advocates serve on this volunteer committee to give the President advice on issues relating to the lives of people with developmental disabilities. After research, review and discussion of issues facing people with disabilities is carried out, an annual report is sent to the President and to agencies of the Federal government.
Abuse, Neglect and Crimes
Billy represents the interests of The Arc of Riverside County and the people we serve very well. For the first time in over a decade, the Committee report features an entire section on abuse of people with disabilities.
Billy was instrumental in convincing the Committee to tackle this important problem since the rate of abuse against people with developmental disabilities throughout their lives is said to be from four to ten times greater than people without disabilities.
“At our first meeting, it was very low on the priority list for the Committee,” Billy said. “Once I started quoting some of the statistics we have become familiar with at The Arc of Riverside County, they saw the urgency of addressing this problem.”
Billy asked our resident expert, Dr. Nora Baladerian and The Arc of Riverside County Executive Director Jim Stream for help and together the three presented a paper to the Committee. This resulted in an entire portion of the final report to the president devoted to this issue of abuse, neglect and crimes against people with developmental disabilities.
Improving the Perceived Value of People with Developmental Disabilities
Billy had another key role in his first year on the Committee. He served on a sub-committee that addressed community awareness. Out of this committee came a theme that is carried through the entire Report. In brief it is captured by the following statement: “All people, including people with intellectual disabilities, are endowed by their Creator with the same inherent value… But no amount of legislation that solely addresses government policy will ever be sufficient to create a truly inclusive society as long as the hearts and minds of the citizens of this country continue to harbor misinformed ideas and attitudes about people with intellectual disabilities.”
The Committee believes that government agencies should begin to make extra efforts to improve the public’s perception and they should do this by promoting awareness campaigns about the value of people with developmental disabilities.
“It is indeed an honor to have a Board Member from our agency appointed to this position,” said Arc Board President Margie Lumbley. “It illustrates not only Arc Riverside’s and Billy’s commitment to advocacy but that people in high levels respect what we have done and continue to do.”
Volunteers are appointed to the President’s Committee for a two-year term after a lengthy screening from a large pool of applicants. The Committee’s annual report to the president is used to identify areas where the administration can promote improvements in the lives of people of with developmental disabilities.
Find out how to defend individuals with developmental disabilities who end up in the criminal justice system. Training is available from one of the leading defense attorneys in the country who specializes in defending people with diagnoses of mental retardation and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
For more information on the work of Billy Edwards and how to defend people with developmental disabilities, call us (951) 684-5141 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.