Disability News Service, Resources, Diversity, Americans with Disabilities Act; Local and National.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Virginia Governor pardon for man with Autism, Reginald “Neli” Latson

Reginald “Neli” Latson

wonderful news Article by DAWNTHEA PRICE / THE FREE LANCE–STAR / Jan 20, 2015
Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed a conditional pardon for Reginald C. “Neli” Latson, a man with autism and multiple legal troubles in Stafford County.

Latson, 23, was convicted in Stafford Circuit Court Jan. 8 of assault on a law enforcement officer and violating his probation. He had punched an officer at the Rappahannock Regional Jail while being moved to another area. Latson was subdued with a Taser during the incident; the officer was not seriously injured.

He had initially been ordered to serve six months in jail, then be transferred to AdvoServ, a long-term residential treatment facility in Florida, as part of a plea agreement between his attorneys and Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Olsen.

The Arc, an advocacy group for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and the ACLU of Virginia had petitioned McAuliffe for the pardon following his latest charges.

McAuliffe’s official Twitter account posted a message about 2 p.m. Tuesday with a picture of the governor signing a conditional pardon.

Brian Coy, McAuliffe’s spokesman, said the terms of the pardon mean Latson will head directly to AdvoServ without serving the six-month sentence.

Advocates rallied around Latson, claiming that his condition has made it impossible to control violent outbursts that have led to the numerous charges of assault and probation violations he has accrued since 2010. Supporters have called for treatment rather than additional incarceration.

Latson, whose mother has said he has Asperger syndrome, has had multiple altercations with law enforcement in recent years.

He was convicted of multiple charges, including assault of a law enforcement officer and disarming a police officer, after an altercation in May 2010 with Deputy Tom Calverly, then a school resource officer at North Stafford High School.

Though a jury recommended Latson serve 10 years in prison, a judge suspended all but two years. The injuries Calverly sustained from the incident ended his law enforcement career.

While living at a group home in Winchester, Latson also fought with a Frederick County officer in August 2013. He then served nine months after being convicted of assault on a police officer and attempting to disarm a police officer.

For the 2013 incident, Latson was also convicted of a probation violation in Stafford and ordered to serve a yearlong sentence. He is expected to finish that term in February.

AdvoServ’s mission statement says its “unique, comprehensive treatment methodology provides real help and proven results” for individuals with developmental disabilities, mental health issues, conduct disorders or other behavioral issues referred to the program. The provider operates programs in Delaware, Florida and New Jersey.

This story has been updated from a previous version.

For previous post:

No comments: