Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) together with the American Association of People with Disabilities, Autism Women’s Network, Arc of Michigan, National Council on Independent Living, Not Dead Yet, and TASH released on Oct. 6 a statement regarding the sentencing of Kelli Stapleton.
Autism Daily Newscast has reported on this story on numerous occasions, our first report was back in Sept. 2013, which can be read here.
At present the Michigan mother is awaiting sentencing for the attempted murder of her autistic daughter, Issy. She has pleaded guilty to first degree child abuse.
In the statement issued by ASAN, that is a nonprofit advocacy organization for the autism community and which is run by autistic individuals, they state that they support the prosecution’s decision regarding the sentence and that Kelli Stapleton’s request for a more lenient sentence should be disregarded. She had been facing a life sentence but it is now believed, according to a report from News Channel 3, that the sentencing guidelines have now been reduced to between 81 to 135 months in prison.
They state that in 2012, in 41 states there were 67,000 reported cases of child neglect or abuse, aimed towards those children with disabilities. In some cases this led eventually to death. in 75 per cent of these cases, the child had an intellectual disability or behavioural/emotional challenges.
They do add that thousands of families lack support and the vital services needed to help them in their caring role, but that this should not be used as an excuse fore violent behavior or indeed be blamed for the cause of actions. Within their statement they make reference to the fact that Kelli Stapletom had access to services:
“Indeed, many of the prominently reported cases of violence against children with disabilities – including this one – were by individuals who had access to a rich array of services. Issy Stapleton had just returned from an intensive 6-month residential placement less than 72 hours before Kelli Stapleton poisoned her with carbon monoxide gas.”
They go on to further add that the media and defense attorneys constantly portray violence against people who have disabilities beacsue of the daily ‘burden’ that this ensues, rather than focusing upon the child and showing sympathy for them. Instead, the ‘attacker’ is shown more sympathy.
“Rather than rallying with sympathy and support for the child victim of attempted filicide, media coverage has consistently attempted to excuse and justify her murderer and paint the person who tried to kill her–her own mother–as the “real” victim.”
To read the full statement submitted by Samantha Crane, Director of Public Policy at ASAN, please visit the ASAN website here.