How does the formal criminal justice system respond to victims with developmental disabilities? What barriers to access and eligibility exist, and how can they be eliminated and system coordination be improved?
What lifestyle variables act as risk factors for personal and financial victimization? Potential risk factors that have been suggested include level and type of employment, transportation, living companions, type and size of residential living, and social activities.
How might one "predict" which persons with disabilities, in which settings, are at highest risk of victimization? This research would have very practical aims: to assist those who provide services to people with disabilities to identify those persons and settings at highest risk, so that prevention and personal safety programs can be better targeted, and again, to understand the barriers in the current formal response system that prevents more effective interagency collaboration in effectively responding to victims with disabilities.
What programs reduce the incidence of abuse and violence, and how might they best be implemented, evaluated, and funded?
Answering these questions would require a series of incremental research projects aimed at developing the required knowledge base. This endeavor would involve research devoted to survey methodology, research on the interaction of victims with developmental disabilities and the criminal justice system, research on treating victims with developmental disabilities, and research on preventing their victimization. I elaborate the needs in each of these areas.
First, research on survey methodology is important to answering the questions about the extent and nature of victimization of people with developmental disabilities. As McCleary and Wiebe pointed out in their paper, the following areas require attention:
Developing a sample frame. No sample frame currently used by state or federal agencies adequately covers persons with developmental disabilities. Research could investigate the use of government master lists (SSI, Medicare/Medicaid) as potential sample frames. Until an adequate