skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 78111 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Diversion of the Mentally Ill Into the Criminal Justice System The Police Intervention Perspective
Journal: American Journal of Psychiatry  Volume:138  Issue:7  Dated:(July 1981)  Pages:973-976
Author(s): J C Bonovitz; J S Bonovitz
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 4
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Pennsylvania Governor's Cmssn on Crime and Delinquency
Harrisburg, PA 17108
Grant Number: DS-78C-003-1179
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Longitudinal data from the Upper Darby, Pa., Police Department was used to assess whether increasing numbers of mentally ill individuals are coming to police attention in a State that has restrictive civil commitment laws.
Abstract: To test the hypothesis that police would arrest disruptive but nondangerous individuals to expedite their removal from the community, the outcomes of all incidents involving a mentally ill individual during a 5-month period in the 1975-1979 study time frame were reviewed. Data showed that mental-illness-related incidents increased 227.6 percent from 1975 to 1979, whereas felonies increased only 5.6 percent and the total number of incidents excluding these categories decreased by 9 percent. A total of 62 (29 percent) of the 248 incidents involving mentally ill individuals neither met the dangerousness criteria of the State's Mental Health Procedures Act nor fell within the penal category. Another 62 calls did meet the Act's dangerousness criteria and involved individuals for whom emergency commitment proceedings had been initiated, committed patients who had eloped from the State hospital, and self-destructive and assaultive individuals. The police referred all but 1 of the 10 individuals charged with violence against persons to the local mental health center for evaluation. The remaining 92 incidents (42 percent) involved mentally ill individuals whose behavior constituted grounds for arrest on such charges as disorderly conduct, terroristic threats, harassment, defiant trespassing, or indecent exposure. The data do not support the hypothesis that the noncommittable mentally ill are being arrested and jailed as an expedient means of removing them from the community. Interviewed police officers were found to believe that mentally ill individuals should not be held responsible for minor criminal offenses. Tabular data and eight footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Civil commitment; Conflict resolution; Crisis intervention; Mentally ill offenders; Pennsylvania; Police discretion; Police diversion; Police personnel
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.