What Influences Perceptions of Procedural Justice Among People with Mental Illness Regarding their Interactions with the Police?
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According to procedural justice theory, a central factor shaping perceptions about authority figures and dispute resolution processes is whether an individual believes they were treated justly and fairly during personal encounters with agents of authority. This paper describes findings from a community-based participatory research study examining perceptions of procedural justice among sixty people with mental illness regarding their interactions with police. The degree to which these perceptions were associated with selected individual (e.g., socio-demographic characteristics), contextual (e.g., neighborhood, past experiences), and interactional (e.g., actions of the officer) factors was explored. The results of regression analyses indicate that the behavior of police officers during the interactions appears to be the key to whether or not these interactions are perceived by people with mental illness as being procedurally just. Implications of these findings for improving interactions between the police and people with mental illness are discussed.