'To Wander Off in Shame': Deconstructing the Shaming and Shameful Arrest Policies of Urban Police Departments in Their Treatment of Persons with Mental Disabilities
Forthcoming chapter in Power, Humiliation and Conflict (Prof. Daniel Rothbart, George Mason University)
29 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2016
Date Written: September 16, 2016
In this chapter, we will focus on the decisionmaking processes made "on the street" by police officers who choose to apprehend and arrest certain cohorts of persons with mental disabilities, rather than seeking other, treatment-oriented alternatives in dealing with them. There is robust valid and reliable literature demonstrating that certain methods of training programs designed for police officers -- the "Memphis model" of crisis intervention training (CIT) is the most well-known -- have resulted in dramatic reductions of arrests for "nuisance crimes" and have avoided contributing to the over-incarceration of this population. Yet, these approaches are far from widespread, so far appearing in only a handful of cities with any consistency, and as a result, populations of persons with mental disabilities in urban jails like Riker's Island continue to skyrocket. The means by which these arrests are effectuated reveal a consistent strategic deployment of humiliation as a means of controlling this stigmatized cohort of the population. The shaming nature of these encounters and arrests often leave already-vulnerable individuals feeling unheard, and potentially traumatized. We will examine these issues through the filter of therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ), a new modality of solving a full range of seemingly-intractable social problems. TJ teaches us that voice, validation and voluntariness -- and embracing an "ethic of care" -- are central to any efforts to remediate the sort of issues we discuss here.
Keywords: humiliation, shame, dignity, therapeutic jurisprudence, police, nuisance crimes, dignity, persons with mental disabilities, crisis intervention training, Memphis model
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