Disability organizations have been working very hard the past few months to bring attention to the incarceration of Reginald “Neli” Latson and their work has paid off. This week, Governor Terry McAuliffe granted Neli a conditional pardon. He will now be transferred to a secure treatment center located in Florida where he can receive the appropriate services he needs in the correct environment.
In an official statement by the ACLU of Virginia, executive director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga said “The Governor did the right thing, Virginia must provide suitable community services for people with disabilities, rather than using the criminal justice system to warehouse them.”
This pardon came through after thousands of letters were written, people circulated the information on social media, and petitions were created calling for Neli’s release. The disability community spoke up about the harsh conditions he was placed in and how the punishment did not fit the situation. This pardon is seen as a positive first step in calling attention to the issue of the incarceration rate amongst the disability community, what can be done to reduce or prevent these issues in the future, and most importantly to help Neli Latson receive the services he needs to be successful in life.
Contributed by Brigid Rankowski