From Deinstitutionalization to Criminalization: The Impact of Police Officer Discretion on the Incarceration of the Mentally Ill

Clara Kroetsch, Niagara University/NYS OASAS

Research shows that the rate of mentally ill individuals who are being incarcerated is expanding. Police officers are being called upon to act as crisis workers and handle this population in increasing amounts daily. This research examines the way in which police officers use their discretionary power to effectively deal with this group of people. This is accomplished through surveys and both structured and semi-structured interviews of officers across different regions of New York State. Discussion will focus on the factors involved in the decision making process, the outcomes of these determinations and the implications associated with both of these.

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Updated 05/20/2006