We don't talk enough about how the criminal system is not trauma-informed. A while back, I started asking my clients charged with violent offenses such as murder or rape to take an ACEs test. Low scores were the rare exception, high scores were the rule,
Almost every client had experienced 8-10 adverse childhood experiences during their formative years --the 10 recognized ACEs are abuse (physical or sexual), neglect (emotional or physical), parent with mental health issues, substance abuse or 1 or both parents in prison.
8-10 is an incredible number, the CDC reported that only 16% of the population have 4 more ACEs.

There is a proven link between childhood ACEs and adult criminality.
Childhood is a crucial time for brain development. When a child experiences prolonged trauma & exposure to toxic stress (ACEs). It can cause neural pathways to not form & lasting changes in areas of the brain that deals with stress, decision making, & self regulatory behavior.
In some cases actually damaged neurons. For examples, in adults who went through severe abuse as children, the neural connections in an area of the brain associated with regulation of emotion and various other cognitive processes are critically impaired.
Those who experienced neglect & abuse have decreased volumes of white matter in various areas of the brain that deal with stress, decision making, &self-regulatory behavior. It also disrupts the connectivity between areas of the brain that key in cognitive & emotional processes.
Could explain why those who underwent abuse in childhood process emotions differently and are more exposed to mental health, and substance abuse.
Study linked ACEs such as parent with mental illness to homicide and attempted homicide among early-onset juvenile offenders. Adverse childhood experiences were also found to have both a direct and indirect effect on recidivism (Wolff & Baglivio, 2016).
1 Physical Abuse -- Study of 574 children that those who were physically abused within the first 5 years of life had a greater risk of being arrested as juveniles.
young adults who were physically abused during adolescence were more than twice as likely to be physically aggressive and almost six times more likely to be verbally aggressive towards an intimate partner
than young adults without a history of abuse. Felson and
Lane (2009) found that those offenders with ACEs of physical abuse were more likely to commit violent offenses than nonviolent offenses.
2 Sexual Abuse -- Felson and Lane (2009) also found that male offenders who experienced sexual abuse during childhood were more likely to commit sexual offenses than nonviolent sexual offenses, particularly sexual offenses against children.
Abuse has also been linked to later perpetration of homicide. Children exposed to child abuse, domestic violence, or both in combination are at an increased risk for internalizing outcomes, like depression, & externalizing outcomes, such as delinquency and
violence perpetration
Study found that childhood physical and sexual abuses are “robust predictors of offending in adolescence.
Victims of physical abuse, neglect, emotional abuse, or sexual abuse are more likely to be arrested and incarcerated (Falshaw & Browne, 1997).
3- Mother/Father abandonment & emotional abuse--These experiences approximate emotional neglect, physical neglect, loss of parent,& experiencing the
incarceration of a household member,all ACEs. Emotional neglect has been linked to later perpetration of personal & property crimes
Father absence has been linked to the likelihood of incarceration of adolescent males, with mother’s remarriage and residential instability increasing the risk of incarceration in those juveniles from father-absent households (Harper & McLanahan, 2004).
High ACE score w/ Child abuse and neglect lead to an increased risk of later violent crime. Relative to physically abused children, neglected children had “more
severe cognitive and academic deficits, social withdrawal and limited peer interactions
4- Witness to parents domestic violence, criminal activity, or drug use- Exposure to parental violence has been shown to predict dating violence perpetration and victimization in early adulthood. Being involved increases antisocial behavior and aggressions.
Those with incarcerated fathers have 2x higher odds of having a criminal conviction and the child's sentence is increased by at least 32% up to 53%.
5- Foster care and broken home- Theobald, Farrington, and Piquero (2013) found that children who experience a family breakdown due to parental separation or divorce may face an increased risk of violent offending,
6- Mental Illness: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and tic disorders have been linked to an
elevated risk of committing violent crimes, however, autism spectrum disorders and Obsessive
Compulsive Disorder (OCD) showed no such link in a study
Long rant inspired by Lisa Montgomery so sharing what I know. The criminal system focuses on the act, the crime, while overlooking the root cause of the behavior. Going to see if I can train a few judges and prosecutors to expect my ACE mitigation during plea and sentencing
The entire criminal justice system should be built upon trauma informed approach to understanding and responding to violent behavior. /end rant
There's so much more that can be done with ACEs as a mitigation tool, beyond capital cases, to paint the complete picture of a person instead of allowing the court to reduce them to merely a "bad act." Say something enough eventually people come to expect and listen

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More from @fodderyfodder

12 Jan
Leaving court, I saw a hungry dog following a woman who seemingly kept trying to pepper spray it(?) so I followed, coaxed the dog to come to me and bought the dog a pork chop plate lunch. I called animal control and was trying to keep her around until they arrived.
A man driving stopped to offer me some of his pizza to feed the dog to keep her around. He introduced himself and that is how I met my new client just assigned to me.

Irrefutable proof my clients are good humans 🥺
Anyone worried about the dog— animal control couldn’t catch her so I contacted a rescue in the area. They are on it.
Read 5 tweets
12 Jan
Just picked Lola up. Surgery went well, but was more invasive than expected. There was a subcutaneous infection so they had to open her entire incision to treat then staple closed. She has a drain in each teet, hopefully those will be ready to be removed Saturday.
She’s terrified of the car, trying to run away every time she realizes she has to go for a ride. But when they walked her out to me she ran to the car, basically dragging her nurse, her head frantically moving around seemingly searching.
I got out of the car and she ran to me, then started frantically scratching at the car door until I opened it like “let me in!” then lunged inside and sat like this all the way home.
Read 7 tweets
12 Jan
My SO just texted that he’s rushing Lola to the vet because she’s bleeding and crying... I am in court. I’m worried. This is terrible.
She’s having surgery...
Still haven’t heard anything. It’s been hours.
Read 9 tweets
29 Dec 20
There have been many sentencing hearings where I have seen the murder victim’s family, one by one, give testimony that they knew the defendant, he is a good kid, and beg on his behalf for mercy. Beg that it not be the end of his life as well. Beg for a second chance,
For society and the system to afford him an opportunity for rehabilitation, for the system to provide him with services, some support to better himself. I have seen the mother of the victim tell the judge that the death wouldn’t be in vain if she could see the defendant better
Himself. All to have the law demand and dictate that the defendant spend his life behind bars and with no opportunity to prove his rehabilitation.
Read 5 tweets
29 Dec 20
I’m not sure it’s possible to imagine how absolutely soul shattering and difficult it is to deliver the news to an 18 year old kid that the facts aren’t on his side, yes he made a mistake, but no he will never get a second chance, he will spend his life and die behind bars
Every time I have delivered this speech, it was to a good person deserving of a second chance that they will sadly never get because society (often the same society that put them in the position in the first place) said they aren’t deserving.
Crimes are rarely as Hollywood depicts. They are rarely this devious, diabolical plot and more often are born out of bad circumstance that results in a series of bad (often arguably necessary in some way) decisions. We must change and stop throwing away our humans.
Read 6 tweets
23 Dec 20
Just got off the phone with a client who hasn’t been able to call because the jail has been taking his money for his meds.

In jail pretrial, they won’t continue you on any medicine you were on previously. You are abruptly taken off because you aren’t allowed to take your meds.
No regard for what abrupt discontinuation of meds will do (from what I’ve seen can range from delusions, delirium, psychosis, suicidal thoughts to actual suicide.) You stay like this while waiting to see medical which can take 20 days- month(s). Longest I’ve seen was 3 months.
After seeing medical, your scripts are often changed to different brands, doses reduced, and only administered once a week. So if you were prescribed something for bipolar— you’d get your one (smaller different brand) dose once a week.
Read 30 tweets

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