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Research Snapshot: What affects whether people with intellectual disability who come into contact with the police get arrested?

October 10, 2013

When individuals with intellectual disability come in contact with police because of a crisis, a number of things can happen. They can be arrested, taken to an emergency room, or have the issue resolved on the spot.

Since individuals with intellectual disability are very vulnerable when they end up in jail, it’s important to understand which situations involving police result in which outcomes.

Researchers in Ontario looked at 138 cases where adults with intellectual disability had experienced a crisis episode that resulted in police contact. They looked at several possible outcomes of police contact, including whether these individuals were arrested, taken to the emergency department, or had the issue resolved at the scene.

They found that the most important factors affecting the outcome were: previous involvement with the police, where they were living at the time of the crisis incident, and the type of crisis that resulted in police contact (for example, whether it involved physical aggression or suicidal behaviour).

You can read this Research Snapshot on the EENet website.

This Research Snapshot is based on their article “Pathways into the criminal justice system for individuals with intellectual disability,” by Poonam Raina, Tamara Arenovich, Yona Lunsky, and Jessica Jones, published in Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, vol. 26 (2013): 404-409.

Research Snapshots are brief, clear language summaries of research, presented in a user-friendly format. To read EENet’s clear language summary of this research, and others, visit www.eenet.ca.

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