Clients Left in Limbo

BB, a resident of an Intermediate Care Facility for the Developmentally Disabled was arrested and charged with aggravated battery for allegedly hitting the staff at his group home. BB remained in Bossier Maximum Security Facility on a $15,000 bond; when the Advocacy Center's ombudsman, Derenda, visited him in jail, he said that he wanted the AC's help.

Our clients are typically represented by public defenders who are overworked, unfamiliar with developmental disability, have trouble communicating with our clients, or do not have information regarding their disability that could be used in their defense.  

BB signed releases so that Derenda could share information and records with his public defender. Unfortunately, the public defender was not responsive to Derenda’s attempts to reach her.  Derenda did not give up, and showed up at BB’s first court hearing to offer her assistance. 

The D.A. tried to offer BB a lesser charge if he plead guilty. Derenda was able to advocate for BB, giving the court information about his intellectual disability and helping to communicate that BB was not understanding what was being asked of him by the D.A. Her opinion was supported by the behavioral specialist for the provider agency, who attended the hearing at Derenda’s request. They both informed the court that BB’s ICF-DD provider was present and would welcome BB back if he was released.  

The D.A. agreed to drop the pending criminal charges.  BB was released and admitted into a new group home facility.

Derenda’s success shows just how critical the intervention of an advocate can be in this situation. Her client is back in the community and no longer facing criminal charges thanks to her vigorous advocacy.