Categories:  'Criminal Justice & Incarceration Society'   'Health Care - The Effects of Lacking Coverage'  

Disability Often the Target of Police Violence

While police violence is often framed as a racial phenomenon, an expression of systematic racism, race doesn't tell the whole story – ableism and inadequate [...]

While police violence is often framed as a racial phenomenon, an expression of systematic racism, race doesn’t tell the whole story – ableism and inadequate mental health care were linked to one quarter of deadly police shootings in the US in 2015, according to data compiled by the Washington Post.

Furthermore, about 14 percent of individuals incarcerated in the US have mental illnesses, and those with mental disabilities or illness are more harshly punished. Studies show that the death penalty is disproportionately applied to adolescents and defendants with intellectual disabilities, brain damage, or severe mental illness. A report from Harvard Law’s Fair Punishment Project showed that, in the sixteen American counties that handed down the most death sentences between 2006 and 2015, 15% of sentences involved a person under the age of 21, and 40% involved someone with an intellectual disability, brain damage, or severe mental illness.

As funding for mental health care and treatment by federal, state, and local governments, police have become the de facto first responders to mental health emergencies, despite the fact that few officers have been trained to respond effectively to mental health crisis – instead, police are trained to respond to threats with (often deadly) force. When mentally ill people aren’t met with fatal violence, they often end up incarcerated, their access to mental health care even further diminished.

 

Picture Credit: Yarek Waszul

Articles

Publication Date: 12/10/2016
Source: Harvard Fair Punishment Project
Author: Fair Punishment Project
Publication Date:
Source: The Washington Post
Author:
Publication Date: 13/01/2016
Source: The New York Times
Author: Matthew Epperson