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Sam Bankman-Fried (ongoing)

Many people are familiar with the media coverage of the collapse of Sam’s company FTX and his subsequent arrest and fraud conviction. What is less well-known is Sam’s autism diagnosis and how this may have impacted the interpretation of some of his behaviors during interviews and his trial.

Sam faced up to 110 years in prison; his lawyers proposed a period of supervised release instead. He was sentenced to 25 years on March 28. Find out more… 


Kenneth French (2019) 

Kenneth is described by family as severely developmentally disabled. In 2019, at a Costco in California, he was shot and fatally wounded by an off-duty police officer. Kenneth, who was non-verbal and had never met the officer before, had pushed the officer to the ground during a moment of agitation while they were both waiting in line.

Despite Kenneth’s parents immediately intervening and trying to explain their son’s disability, the officer proceeded to fire at them ten times, severely wounding the parents—who had their backs to the officer at the time—and killing Kenneth.

Kenneth’s parents successfully sued for damages. But the case that sought one count of voluntary manslaughter and two counts of assault with a firearm ended in a mistrial and, in February 2024, it was announced that the police officer would not be retried. Find out more…

Charles Kinsey (2016)

In 2016, Charles, a behavior therapist, was shot in the leg by a police officer in Florida while attempting to retrieve his 27-year-old autistic patient, Arnaldo Rios Soto, who had wandered away from his group home. The officer said he had been aiming at Arnaldo, who he believed was threatening Charles with a gun. 

Footage shows that at the time of the shooting, Charles was lying on the ground with his hands up, pleading with officers not to shoot and explaining that Arnaldo was holding a toy truck, not a weapon. After being shot, Charles was handcuffed and left bleeding on the ground for approximately 20 minutes before receiving medical attention.

The officer who shot Charles faced legal action, but was ultimately found not guilty of attempted manslaughter, though he was convicted of culpable negligence, a misdemeanor. Find out more…

Jack and John Elder Robison (2007)

After facing up to 60 years in prison for his chemistry experiments, in 2009, 19-year-old Jack was found innocent on three counts of malicious explosion and one count of possessing explosives with the intent to harm people or property. 

Both Jack and his father John are autistic.

John tells their stories in his book Raising Cubby, where extensive consideration is given to issues with the criminal justice system in relation to autism. Find out more…

Darius McCollum (1980+)

In 1980, 15-year-old Darius was arrested for driving a subway train. Darius had been diagnosed with Asperger’s. To date, he has been arrested 32 times for impersonating New York City bus drivers and subway conductors, commandeering hundreds of trains and buses over three decades. His deep fascination with transit began in childhood, offering him refuge from school bullies and leading to a memorized knowledge of the entire subway system by age 8. 

Despite his actions causing no harm or damage, he has spent a significant portion of his life in maximum security prisons for transit-related offenses.

Darius is the subject of the 2016 documentary Off the Rails: The Darius McCollum Story  Find out more…