Expert consensus is that people with an intellectual disability are over represented across the criminal justice setting (CJS). Primary research studies have been conducted in police stations and prisons, but little is known about the prevalence of this population in the court setting. The purpose of this paper is to conduct a literature review to find out more about the prevalence of defendants with an intellectual disability in court.
A literature review was conducted using standard systematic review methodology (Julian et al., 2011) and the PRISMA reporting guidelines (Moher et al., 2009).
Two papers met the inclusion criteria and were critically appraised. The papers reported prevalence findings ranging from 10%–20%.
Differences in study design, sampling, recruitment and diagnostic criteria affect the ability to make comparisons or synthesise findings.
It is important that future primary and secondary research studies standardise operational terms to enable true comparison between studies, systematic reviews and evidence syntheses.
Defendants with an intellectual disability need to be identified to enable criminal justice professionals to make reasonable adjustments to proceedings and consider diversion and alternative disposal options. This will likely improve outcomes for this population and reduce recidivism.
This literature review contributes to the growing evidence base about meeting the criminal justice needs of people with a learning disability and recognition of the increased prevalence across the CJS and specifically within the court setting.
This systematic literature review was completed in partial fulfilment of a Masters degree and was part of wider research project funded by Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity (MAJ150703).
Marshall-Tate, K., Chaplin, E., McCarthy, J. and Grealish, A. (2020), "A literature review about the prevalence and identification of people with an intellectual disability within court Liaison and Diversion services", Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 159-169. https://doi.org/10.1108/JIDOB-10-2019-0023
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