To best serve a client with intellectual disability, legal professionals need to understand some of the systemic issues that people with intellectual disability face when they engage with the justice system. These systemic issues include (French, 2007, p. 76):
- Access and affordability
- Stigma that results in direct and indirect discrimination (for example, police and legal representatives assume that people with intellectual disability do not make good witnesses)
- Time constraints faced by professionals working in the justice system
- Complicated and adversarial legal processes
- A lack of support systems and skills necessary to identify and work effectively with this client group
- Vulnerability to crime and over-representation in the criminal justice system (for more information, see the section: ‘Criminal justice system over-representation’).