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NCJ Number: 220921 Find in a Library
Title: Applying Procedural Justice Theory to Law Enforcement's Response to Persons With Mental Illness
Journal: Psychiatric Services  Volume:58  Issue:6  Dated:June 2007  Pages:787-793
Author(s): Amy C. Watson Ph.D.; Beth Angell Ph.D., M.S.S.W.
Date Published: June 2007
Page Count: 7
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Mental Health
Bethesda, MD 20852
Grant Number: MH-075786
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines procedural justice theory as it has been applied to mental health and justice system contexts, with attention to its application in encounters between police and persons with mental illness.
Abstract: The procedural justice perspective argues that the fairness with which individuals are treated in an encounter with authority figures, such as the police, influences whether they cooperate or resist authority. A key component in this perception of fairness is a sense of participation in the outcome of the encounter. This requires having an opportunity to present one's own view of the circumstances that led to the encounter with police and how the conflict should be resolved by the decisionmaker. A second component of the perception of fairness in police encounters involves being treated with respect and politeness in the context of respect for one's legal rights. A third aspect of the perception of fairness is the belief that the police are generally concerned for one's welfare. It is important that these features of procedural justice are experienced early in the encounter with police. Individuals with mental illness may be particularly sensitive to how police initially exercise their authority in dealing with problem behaviors. It is important, however, that the components of procedural justice be consistent through all phases of the police handling of mentally ill individuals. Police training in the respectful, caring, and enlightened management of mentally ill individuals must focus on every phase of case processing. Inconsistency in the proper management of mentally ill individuals is likely to stimulate their confusion, frustration, anger, and resistance. The authors of this article are currently conducting qualitative work that is examining the role of procedural justice elements in the accounts of police encounters as told by persons with mental illness who are currently in outpatient treatment. 45 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Citizen satisfaction; Mentally ill offenders; Police attitudes; Police-citizen interactions; Public Opinion of the Police
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