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Abstract

There is increasing focus on the prevalence of learning disabilities in the criminal justice system. The aim of this paper is to examine the supports and resources currently in place to support people with learning disabilities through each stage of the Irish judicial process. A review of international literature regarding people with disabilities was conducted specifically in relation to the methods used to identify those who are risk of becoming offenders, the process in place when an individual comes in contact with the criminal justice system, other professionals and practitioners who undertake criminal work, their incarceration into a rehabilitation setting and the supports in place to successfully integrate offenders back into their own community. As a result of this review, the present paper highlights the prevalence of learning disabilities among offenders and the pre-existing risk factors that identify a person with a disability in their pathway to becoming an offender. The existing literature calls for the introduction of training and education in relation to disabilities for those working in the judicial system in addition to more appropriate rehabilitation settings and effective support in assisting those returning to their own communities. Overall, this paper finds that a multidisciplinary and multi-agency approach is vital and should be governed by national guidelines.

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