The National Autistic Society provided written evidence in the first hearing of Lauri Love’s case. Mr Love is a British man with Asperger syndrome, who is challenging extradition requests from the United States. We got involved to highlight the issues that autistic people can face in getting the support that they need in the criminal justice system.
On 14 November 2016 the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, signed an order for Mr Love to be extradited to face trial in the US. This follows a Westminster Magistrates' Court ruling on 16 September. We understand that Mr Love is appealing the decision.
Responding, Sarah Lambert, Head of Policy at The National Autistic Society, outlined the challenges that autistic people can experience in the criminal justice system:
“Lauri Love, who has Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, is facing being extradited and trialled in the United States. This has potentially serious ramifications, given that his family have reported that Lauri is at risk of suicide.
“People with Asperger syndrome, like Lauri, often rely on predictability and familiarity with their surroundings to reduce anxiety. Taking someone to a different country and culture which is far away from their support networks could therefore have significant effects on an autistic person’s mental health and wellbeing. We also know that autistic people who get caught up in the criminal justice system can be very vulnerable.
The criminal justice system can often overlook the additional needs of autistic offenders and defendants, leaving them without any support at a time of extremely high anxiety.
“Without the right support, autistic people can struggle to understand or communicate and those who don’t receive support in prisons may develop complex and long-term mental health problems, and often cannot benefit from rehabilitation programmes which are not adapted for their communication needs.
“We understand that Lauri will appeal this decision and we urge the courts to ensure they are taking his autism into account as part of that appeal.