United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
Information and Technical Assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act
2010 Regulations
2010 Design Standards
Technical Assistance Materials
Ensuring Equality in the Criminal Justice System for People with Disabilities

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people with disabilities from discrimination in State and local government services, programs, and activities, including law enforcement agencies, justice system entities, and juvenile and adult corrections agencies.

The ADA requires criminal justice entities—including attorneys, courts, jails, juvenile justice entities, police, prisons, prosecutors, and public defense attorneys—to avoid discriminating against people with disabilities.  Entities must ensure that people with disabilities are treated equally in the criminal justice system and that they have equal opportunity to benefit from safe, inclusive communities.  Nondiscrimination requirements, such as the obligation to provide reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures and the obligation to take appropriate steps to communicate effectively with people with disabilities, also support the goals of ensuring public safety, promoting public welfare, and avoiding unnecessary criminal justice involvement for people with disabilities. 


M.G. v. Cuomo -  7:19-cv-630

On February 12, 2021, the United States filed a Statement of Interest in the case of M.G. v. Cuomo. In M.G., a class of individuals with serious mental illness allege that they are placed at serious risk of unnecessary institutionalization upon their release from prison because the State of New York administers its mental health system in a discriminatory manner that fails to provide necessary community-based metal health housing and supportive services. The Statement of Interest explains that: (1) individuals who allege serious risk of institutionalization have standing to bring a Title II claim; and (2) allegations that a public entity administers its services in a discriminatory manner state a claim under Title II. 

Baltimore Police Department

Letter of Findings, Executive Summary (Resúmen Ejécutivo en español) (8/10/16), and Consent Decree (1/12/17) re: responding to and interacting with people with behavioral health disabilities or in crisis, by requiring a gaps assessment of the city’s behavioral health service system and increased collaboration between BPD and the behavioral health provider community; implementation of a Crisis Intervention Team first-responder model of police-based crisis intervention; training for all officers on responding to individuals in crisis; training for dispatchers to limit police involvement in crises where appropriate;  and data collection, analysis, and reporting on suspected behavioral health disabilities or crisis status (at pages 34-42)

Examples and Resources to Support Criminal Justice Entities in Compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act | PDF (January 2017)

This document provides guidance to facilitate criminal justice entities’ compliance with the ADA in their interactions with individuals with mental health disabilities or intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).  The guidance sets forth the key regulatory provisions under the ADA and provides examples of how local law enforcement, corrections, and justice systems entities have facilitated compliance with these obligations.  It also provides recommendations for training criminal justice personnel, conducting reviews of policies and procedures, and collaborating with mental health and disability service providers and provides examples from the Department’s criminal justice enforcement actions, with links to additional governmental resources. (2017)

Philadelphia Police Department

Letter of Findings re: provision of auxiliary aids and services to ensure effective communication to arrestees, detainees, and victims of crime by police department (12/7/16)

New York City Department of Corrections

Letter of Findings re: violations of Title II of the ADA by failing to consistently respond to requests for reasonable accommodations in a timely and adequate manner; by failing to place inmates with mobility impairments and visual impairments in accessible housing areas; by failing to provide inmates with mobility impairments with appropriate mobility devices and by failing to ensure that inmates with hearing impairments have equal access to telecommunications services (12/5/16)

Arlington County, VA Sheriff

Settlement Agreement re: effective communication for people who are deaf or hard of hearing in Sheriff Department’s detention and corrections system (11/16/16)

Head of the Civil Rights Division Vanita Gupta Delivers Remarks at Press Conference Announcing Findings of Investigation into Baltimore Police Department (8/10/16)

Deputy Assistant Attorney General Eve Hill of the Civil Rights Division Delivers Remarks at the White House Forum on Criminal Justice Reform and People With Disabilities (7/18/16)

Robinson v. Farley

Statement of Interest re: plaintiff alleged that police officers violated Title II of the ADA when they failed to reasonably accommodate his disabilities during his arrest and post-arrest proceedings. The Statement of Interest was filed to clarify that Title II of the ADA applies to the arrest of an individual with a disability, and to explain the application of Title II’s reasonable modification requirement in that context (D.D.C. 6/20/16)

Nevada Department of Corrections

Letter of Findings re: violations of Title II of the ADA through housing and employment policies and practices that have resulted in the segregation and stigmatization of inmates with HIV and the incarceration of inmates with disabilities for longer periods, in more restrictive settings, than inmates without disabilities (6/20/16)

Head of the Civil Rights Division Vanita Gupta Delivers Remarks at the National Disability Rights Network’s Annual Conference (6/16/16)

Columbia, SC Police Department

Settlement Agreement re: provision of auxiliary aids and services by police department to ensure effective communication to people with hearing impairments (5/3/16)