The Autistic Self Advocacy Network and the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network have filed a joint statement of concern with the Governor of Virginia regarding the Matthew Rushin case. We urge the Governor to review Mr. Rushin’s case, provide relief, and pursue systemic reforms to end mass incarceration in Virginia and address the racism and ableism endemic to the criminal justice system. You can read the statement here.
As advocates for racial & disability justice have long said, racism and ableism affect every interaction between disabled people of color and the criminal system. We believe that racism and ableism influenced both the severity of charges against Mr. Rushin and the severity of his sentence. While we recognize that these issues are systemic, we believe that the Governor has an opportunity to review this specific case and effect a more just outcome.
ASAN is proud of our systemic advocacy addressing harm done by the criminal justice system, including advocacy on specific cases. As with all of our work on specific cases, we often work for weeks or months behind the scenes to confirm facts and consult with legal advocates before we are able to comment publicly on a case. We thank our community members for their passionate advocacy on behalf of Matthew Rushin during this time. We hope that this moment leads to sustained engagement from the broader disability community on policies relating to mass incarceration, the school-to-prison-pipeline, police violence, and other issues at the intersection of racism and ableism.
We must work to restore justice to those who have been harmed by the criminal system, as well as to remove the system’s ability to further harm our community members. As ASAN continues our systemic and legal advocacy in this area, we commit to taking on more of this work.
Read our letter to the Governor here.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization run by and for autistic people. ASAN was created to serve as a national grassroots disability rights organization for the autistic community run by and for autistic Americans, advocating for systems change and ensuring that the voices of autistic people are heard in policy debates and the halls of power. Our staff work to educate communities, support self-advocacy in all its forms, and improve public perceptions of autism. ASAN’s members and supporters include autistic adults and youth, cross-disability advocates, and non-autistic family members, professionals, educators, and friends.