Criminalizing mental disorder: The comparative arrest rate of the mentally ill

Linda A. Teplin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

353 Scopus citations


Notes that there has been a great deal of speculation that mentally ill persons are being processed through the criminal justice system rather than the mental health system. To date, this thesis has been based more on intuition than on empirical research. Data from a study of 1,382 police-citizen encounters are presented that suggest that the mentally ill are indeed being criminalized. Specifically, it was found that, for similar offenses, mentally disordered citizens had a significantly greater chance of being arrested than non-mentally-disordered persons. This finding has public policy implications for the basic tenets of the community mental health movement, as well as for optimal functioning of the criminal justice system. Several public policy modifications are suggested. (56 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)794-803
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 1984


  • likelihood of criminal arrest, mentally ill citizens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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