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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 149380 Find in a Library
Title: Handle With Care: Dealing With Offenders Who Are Mentally Retarded
Journal: FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin  Volume:63  Issue:7  Dated:(July 1994)  Pages:12-16
Author(s): A L Bowker
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 5
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America

NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Mentally retarded offenders represent between 5 and 10 percent of the prison population in the United States, but no consistent way of dealing with these offenders has emerged to date.
Abstract: When handling mentally retarded offenders, law enforcement officers usually base their reactions on two misconceptions. They view them as either crazy people who cannot refrain from committing criminal acts or as child- like individuals who deserve pity, are not competent to stand trial for their actions, and must be diverted from the criminal justice process when possible. Mental retardation, however, cannot be viewed as an excuse or defense for criminal behavior, and criminal justice professionals must fully understand mental retardation versus mental illness, competency, and insanity. Mentally retarded persons are not always easy to identify, especially those who function well socially. Consequently, police officers can attempt to recognize mental retardation based on individual responses to certain behavioral questions. When conducting interviews, police officers must ensure that offenders understand their Miranda rights. Mental retardation does not automatically make offenders incompetent to stand trial, and courts must be willing to obtain the services of qualified forensic psychologists to evaluate competency. The insanity defense may apply to mentally retarded offenders, but jurisdictions have different standards regarding this defense. In general, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and courts need to take mental retardation into account but not use it as an excuse to divert mentally retarded offenders from the criminal justice process. 5 endnotes
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Competency to stand trial; Criminal responsibility; Insanity defense; Offenders with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities; Police; Victims of Crime
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