Disability policy researcher and mental and chronic illness advocate Valerie Novack speaks to the ways in which local elections often determine who is in charge of how people with disabilities are treated by the criminal justice system in this new video. She explains that everything from sentencing to how police respond to someone experiencing a mental health crisis is influenced by who is elected at the local level, and why we need to elect people who will prioritize the safety of people with disabilities over dangerous police practices and punitive justice:
“At one point I had a suicide attempt…and the first thing I’m faced with when I wake up is a police officer outside standing outside my ICU door.”
Valerie elaborates, “between 30 to 50 percent of police murders..are people with disabilities, and a lot of times those are people with mental health disabilities.” She continues:
“A lot of people are becoming more aware they can vote some of these people out that have histories of not holding power structures accountable or they have histories of really racist sentencing practices… I truly believe we can make something better.”
For these reasons, Valerie encourages everyone to vote so that they can make themselves heard and ensure people with disabilities are treated safely, and fairly. You can follow Valerie on her personal Twitter account @MADtastically.