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Criminality of the Mentally Ill - A Dangerous Misconception

NCJ Number
American Journal of Psychiatry Volume: 142 Issue: 5 Dated: (May 1985) Pages: 593-599
Date Published
7 pages
To examine police handling of the mentally ill, observations were conducted of police-citizen interactions for 2,200 hours over a 14-month period in 1980-1981. The study took place in a large northern city.
Overall, police encounters with mentally disordered persons were relatively rare. Of 2,122 persons involved with police, only 85 (4 percent) exhibited signs of serious mental disorder. Mentally disordered persons were far less likely than others to be victims or complainants, but were twice as likely to be either the subjects of concern or assistance. An analysis of criminal incidents indicates that the mentally disordered did not differ from others in the type of criminal violation. While there was a slight trend for them to be suspects more often, they did not commit serious crimes at a rate disproportionate to their numbers and their pattern of crime was substantially similar to that of the general population. 2 tables and 42 references. ABI jp

Date Published: January 1, 1985