Brief Report: Sentencing Outcomes for Offenders on the Autism Spectrum

Tammie R. Foster, Robyn L. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Although people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are not more likely to commit crimes, they are overrepresented in the criminal justice system as reported by Howlin (Autism and Asperger syndrome: Preparing for adulthood, Routledge, 2004). This may, in part, be due to unfavourable interactions with the criminal judiciary. Evidence suggests the autistic population are perceived unfavourably in adjudicative proceedings resulting in harsher penalties. The present study explores whether ASD offenders (ASD-O) receive longer sentences compared to national sentencing data. Sentencing data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) were used to compare ASD-O with similar offences. ASD-O attracted longer sentences across all offence classifications. Inferential analyses indicated sexual assault sentences were significantly higher in the ASD-O sample. No significant differences were found for murder, manslaughter, and assault.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3314-3320
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number7
Early online date27 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • Autism
  • Criminal behaviour
  • Offending
  • Punishment—criminal justice
  • Sentencing


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