The Autistic Self Advocacy Network issued a statement on Wednesday, October 8th, regarding the sentencing of K. Stapleton.
K. Stapleton, having pled guilty to charges of first-degree child abuse, has been sentenced to 10-22 years in prison after poisoning her autistic daughter, Issy, in an attempt to end her life. ASAN is pleased that the sentence is consistent with the recommended sentencing guidelines. By imposing a similar sentence as would be expected for someone who committed the same crime against a nondisabled child, the court has sent the message that Issy’s life was as valued as any other.
As ASAN outlined in our statement to the court at sentencing, people with disabilities are at great risk of suffering violence by caregivers. In the last 5 years, over 70 people with disabilities were murdered by their parents or caregiving relatives. It is imperative that the disability community be afforded equal protection from violence and these crimes be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Troublingly, these crimes tend to see comparatively lighter sentences than filicides of nondisabled individuals.
ASAN is gratified to see that Issy was granted justice. We especially thank the Benzie County prosecutor’s office for its commitment to showing the court and the public that Issy, not her would-be killer, was the real victim of the violence committed against her. We can only hope this sets a precedent and signals a change, not only for how our justice system approaches these crimes, but for how these crimes are viewed by the public and covered by the media. In the words of Mary Harris “Mother” Jones: mourn the dead, and fight like hell for the living.