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The system fails these individuals, and thus the public, usually because it ignores them.It does not routinely identify them as mentally retarded at any phase of the process.
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And routine screening would be required for identification, since persons with mental retardation often try to conceal their disabilities.
But even when a judge suspects a mental disability, he or she cannot usually act on this suspicion because there are few provisions to treat the retarded any differently (although many provisions target the mentally ill).
In California, private organizations have already filed a class action lawsuit against the governor and the state department of corrections to force compliance with the act.
This case could set precedent and, if nothing else, should considerably raise the profile of the issue.Those are the conclusions reached by Joan Petersilia in a recent review of the evidence bearing on this issue.Petersilia is a researcher in RAND's Criminal Justice Program and Professor of Criminology at the University of California, Irvine.Persons with mental retardation are a small but increasing portion of the population under the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system.