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Interviewing Persons with Disabilities or Mental Illness


Interviewing Persons with Disabilities or Mental Illness Chapter 9 Profile of the Impaired Population Approximately 54 million Americans live with a wide variety of ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Interviewing Persons with Disabilities or Mental Illness

Interviewing Persons with Disabilities or Mental
  • Chapter 9

Profile of the Impaired Population
  • Approximately 54 million Americans live with a
    wide variety of physical, cognitive, and
    emotional disabilities.
  • One out of every ten police calls nationally
    involves someone who is mentally ill.

The American with Disability Act (ADA)
  • It prohibits state and local governments from
    discriminating against any qualified person with
    a disability
  • An individual who, with or without reasonable
    modifications to rules, policies, or practices
    meets the essential eligibility requirements for
    the receipt of services or the participation in
    programs or activities provided by a public

ADA is a Legislative Mandate
  • The American with Disabilities Act is a
    legislative mandate to provide equal protections
    and access of government facilities for persons
    who have a disability.
  • It affects everything that officers and deputies
  • Receiving citizen complaints
  • Interrogating interviewing
  • Arresting, booking, and holding suspects
  • Enforcing laws
  • Incarceration

Interviewing Accommodations
  • ADA requires that government officials attempt
    effective communication with individuals having
    disabilities, but they are not required to alter
    the nature of the service
  • Examples include
  • an interpreter
  • the use of an auxiliary aid such as note takers,
    transcript services, audio recordings, or large
    print materials

Police Liability under ADA
  • Sporadic claims against police departments for
    failure to train officers on handling persons
    with disabilities have surfaced in Federal Court
  • Police are expected to recognize a situation
    where a person has a disability

Wrongful-Arrest Claims
  • Jackson v. Town of Sanford (1994) a man was
    arrested for drunk driving but was sober. His
    unsteadiness and slurred speech resulted from a
    past stroke
  • Lewis V. Truitt (1997) a deaf man, who could not
    understand the commands of the police, was beat
    and arrested by police for resisting arrest
  • Gohier v. Enright (1999) Arrest is being broadly
    interpreted to include arrests, violent
    confrontations not technically involving an
    arrest, and pre-arrest investigations

Techniques to avoid wrongful arrest
  • Noticing if there is a handicapped license plate
    on the car
  • Communicating to people in a crowd to signal that
    a person stop running
  • By speaking clearly
  • Using breathalyzers
  • Self-confrontation!
  • Negative attitudes may be the largest impediment
    to successful interviewing
  • Speak directly to the person being interviewed,
    even if they are accompanied by another person
  • Their condition should not cause repulsion,
    sympathy, or admiration

Identifying When Special Care is Needed
  • Communication problems can result in misleading
    statements or inappropriate reactions because of
    misunderstanding of events
  • Excessive apprehension or anxiety may be evident
  • May be incoherent not due to drug or alcohol

Disability may be defined through a variety of
cognitive and communication disabilities
Mental Retardation a Developmental Disability
  • Persons with mental retardation possess less than
    average ability to process information
  • 2 to 10 of the prison population
  • Some may not be able to understand or answer
  • Will exhibit a mood level that is inconsistent
    with the situation
  • Have a short attention span
  • Limited vocabulary
  • May have a speech impediment
  • Unusual behavior traits or agitation accompanied
    by physical activity may also present itself
  • Verbal and nonverbal behaviors may include
    yelling, biting, hugging, rubbing of genital
    areas, or breasts

Mental Illness Defined
  • Mental illness is a clinically significant
    behavioral or psychological syndrome or pattern
    that occurs in an individual and that is
    associated with present distress (e.g. a painful
    symptom) or disability (i.e., impairment in one
    or more important areas of functioning) or with a
    significant increased risk of suffering death,
    pain, disability, or an important loss of freedom

Persons having mental illness mental
retardation are highly represented in the cj
system they are not the same!
Categories of Severe Mental Illness
  • These are highly represented in the prison
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Serious depression

  • 3 to 6 times greater in the prison population
    versus the general population
  • This complex disease may include disordered
    thinking or speech delusions hallucinations
    inappropriate emotions confusion withdrawal
    and inattention to personal grooming
  • Individuals with this mental disorder may present
    with anxiety, anger, and aloofness,
    argumentativeness, along with a superior or
    patronizing manner
  • May be quick to anger, provocative, and dangerous

Bipolar Disorder
  • Bipolar disorder (previously called
    manic-depressive disorder) is characterized by
    frequently dramatic mood swings from depressions
    to mania
  • During manic phases some people may be psychotic
    and may experience delusions or hallucinations.
  • In a manic phase can be disruptive, quick to
    anger, provocative, and dangerous

Serious Depression
  • Puts people at an increased risk for suicide and
  • In 2001, a prisoner at Georgias Phillips State
    prison who was mentally ill had had an extensive
    history of self-mutilation, heard the murder of
    another prisoner at the hands of his cellmate in
    a nearby cell. The prisoner responded to the
    stress by cutting himself, and was subsequently
    given a disciplinary report and placed in an
    isolation cell for destruction of state

Distant Field Evaluation
  • A nonverbal assessment that is conducted from a
    distance over 3 feet
  • This is used when a person attracts interest in
    the field
  • Inappropriate dress
  • Stumbling or appearing confused
  • Inappropriate actions with others
  • Appears gravely disabled

Detailed Field Evaluation
  • Up-close assessment to determine if the subject
    is mentally disordered or physically handicapped
  • The purpose is to determine if there are problems
    that must be addressed
  • Show of respect non-threatening approach
  • Speak firmly and clearly
  • Show concern through actions and words
  • Are you ok?
  • Do you need help?

Interview Considerations
  • Although these interviews may be challenging,
    they involve only a modification of techniques
  • A cycle of victimization and abuse will make it
    more difficult to establish rapport
  • Be patient
  • Understanding

Legal Issues
  • Research the statutes that are specific to
    protecting disabled persons in your state
  • Elements of the crimes against persons with
    disability may be different crimes committed
    against non-disabled persons
  • Specific statutes exist that protect persons
  • Having disability
  • Mentally incapacitated
  • Having mental disability
  • Having physical disability
  • Specific statutes exist that protects the
    property of special populations

Prepare for the Interview
  • Select a location that is quiet and without
  • Turn off cell phone or pager
  • One-on-one interview is preferred

Methods for Establishing Rapport
  • Speak directly to the interviewee with respect
  • Ask the person what they would like to be called
  • Dont assume the person wants or needs help
  • Keep clear of wheelchairs
  • Avoid touching the person
  • May be touch toxic
  • May feel as though they cant refuse the touch
  • If inappropriate touching occurs, firmly and
    gently avoid personal contact

Communication during the Interview
  • Do not phrase questions in legal terms
  • Do not infantilize
  • Keep sentences short and to the point
  • Avoid asking why
  • Attempt consistency in communications
  • Avoid leading questions and questions that can be
    answered with yes or no
  • If possible, no longer than 30 minutes
  • Confirm vocabulary

Interrogation Considerations Level of
  • Make a determination on the level of functioning
    of the suspect
  • Can they read, write, answer simple questions?
  • Follow up statements suggestive of guilt by
    asking for details
  • Verify that the accused understands what is being

Miranda Warnings
  • Provide the suspect his or her Miranda Rights
    which is required for all interrogations of
    persons in custody
  • There is no requirement that Miranda rights be
    given verbatim
  • Explain in a manner consistent with the needs of
    the suspect

False Confessions
  • Interrogations of individuals with a mental
    retardation is a concern
  • There is a link between low IQ and false
  • Avoid unnecessarily lengthy interrogations
  • Persons having mental retardation usually want to
    please police officers and may incriminate
    themselves even when innocent of any crime