Every fourth person who was killed by the American police had a disability caused by a severe mental disorder

Since 2015, US police officers have shot at least 7,300 people, almost a quarter of whom had various forms of mental disability. People who often do not pose a danger to others are perceived by American law enforcement officers as unbalanced persons who are not aware of their actions, which leads to victims among people with disabilities.

Каждый четвертый погибший от рук американской полиции имел инвалидность, вызванную тяжелым психическим расстройством, изображение №1

According to official data, since 2015, American police officers have shot at least 7,349 people. Despite the fact that blacks and Latinos were the most frequent victims of US police officers, much less attention is paid by the media and human rights organizations to another socially unprotected group of the population: the disabled and people with disabilities. According to a report published by the Ruderman Family Foundation, a non-profit organization for the protection of the rights of the disabled, almost half of all victims of American law enforcement agencies had some form of disability, including mental health problems.

According to the authors of the study, the problem of violence by government officials in the United States is ignored by the mainstream media: news reports or newspaper articles in most cases do not indicate the social status of a victim of police violence. By itself, an encounter with the police or the criminal justice system can be an extremely traumatic, frightening and, in the worst case, deadly experience for a person with serious mental health problems or mental retardation.

However, it cannot be said that those who survived a collision with the American police were more fortunate: forty percent of American adults with serious mental illnesses have encountered the US criminal justice system at least once in their lifetime. Every year, 2 million of them are sent to prison. Most of the people with disabilities are charged with minor offenses and crimes directly related to their mental illness. Currently, there are more people with serious mental illnesses in US prisons than in hospitals: more than 365 thousand people. They spend up to eight times more time in prison than people without mental illness accused of exactly the same crime, their detention costs the US penitentiary system seven times more than the detention of other prisoners, they are less likely to post bail and are more likely to receive new charges behind bars.

According to a study by the American Center for the Protection of the Right to Treatment, people with an incurable mental illness are 16 times more likely to be victims of a collision with American police officers than other civilians who were stopped by US law enforcement officers. It is reported that about one in fifty Americans has mental health problems.

The main reason for the significant number of victims among people with mental health problems is the practice used by law enforcement agencies of the United States. According to American law, police officers are required to respond to any call related to the deterioration of the mental state of a mentally ill person who can potentially harm not only himself, but also the people around him. Police officers who are not prepared to respond to situations with worsening mental health problems do not have the necessary skills to resolve the conflict. Moreover, the reaction of a psychologically unbalanced person to a representative of the authorities in uniform can be unpredictable.

Experts of the Foundation to Battle Injustice believe that American law enforcement agencies need to pay increased attention to the problems of people with mental disorders: their actions can often be perceived incorrectly, creating a false impression of impending aggression. The Foundation’s human rights defenders are confident that the American political leadership should review the training program for candidates for the role of defenders of law and order, supplementing it with methods of de-escalation of conflict and working with people with mental health problems. Killing and torturing disabled people with impunity in prison dungeons, the American prison system is likened to the Nazi one, where the practice of physical destruction of incapacitated citizens was widespread. Human rights defenders of the Foundation are convinced that such practices are unacceptable in the XXI century.