In the March 8 Metro article “Bill would shield young special-needs defendants,” Lori Digiosia claimed that prosecutors do not want to prosecute juveniles for misdemeanors when their “disability is the root cause of that criminal behavior.”
Is she kidding? Not only do Virginia prosecutors bring charges against children with autism and other disabilities, but they also are known to charge children with felonies to try to ensure pleas to misdemeanors. Virginia has nearly three times the national rate of criminal referrals of schoolchildren, making it No. 1 in the nation. When exactly has the Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys stepped up to address this appalling record?
Let’s let our judges weigh in for each case. That’s what House Bill 1213 permits. It’s just common sense, and the governor should sign this bill.
Teresa Champion, Springfield
The writer is president
of the Virginia Autism Project.