Many people in Wisconsin and across the country are familiar with the popular Netflix series, Making a Murderer, but don’t know how this Wisconsin criminal case is generating important discussion around how people witphoto of brendan dassey in courth intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) experience the criminal justice system.

Recently The Arc recognized Steve Drizin the lawyer who represented Brendan Dassey, a young man with learning and developmental disabilities, who was convicted in the case. Dassey’s conviction was overturned on grounds that his confession was involuntary but later reinstated by the United States Court of Appeals . In June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the Dassey case. 

Often times people with I/DD end up being coerced into confessing to crimes they have not committed. People with I/DD and other invisible disabilities can be misunderstood by law enforcement.

Read The Arc’s blog post regarding the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the Dassey case.


  • See slides from The Arc Wisconsin’s July 10th webinar with The Arc’s National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability® (NCCJD®) and Disability Rights Wisconsin
  • Listen to a recording of our July 10th webinar

Our July 10th webinar provided attendees with:

    • An update on the Brendan Dassey case from Making a Murderer
    • An overview of concerns for people with I/DD in the criminal justice system
    • An overview the work of The Arc’s National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability® (NCCJD®)
    • Information on how you can bring NCCJD’s Pathways to Justice® training to your community
    • Information on Disability Rights Wisconsin’s Victim Advocacy Program


What You Can Do: 

  • Learn more about the intersection of disability and criminal justice
  • Support organizations like The Arc’s NCCJD
  •  Sign up for emails and follow NCCJD  on Facebook
  • View free webinars, download free white papers
  • Use NCCJD’s request assistance online form
    • Offer training to raise awareness

Wisconsin Resources for People with Disabilities – Criminal Justice