Interviewing Persons with
Disabilities or Mental Illness
Chapter 9
Profile of the Impaired
Population


Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
Approximately 54
million Americans live
with a wide variety of
physical, cognitive,
and emotional
disabilities.
One out of every ten
police calls nationally
involves someone
who is mentally ill.
9-2
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
The American with
Disability Act (ADA)

It prohibits state and local governments
from discriminating against any qualified
person with a disability

Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
“An individual who, with or without
reasonable modifications to rules,
policies, or practices … meets the
essential eligibility requirements for the
receipt of services or the participation in
programs or activities provided by a
public entity.”
9-3
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ADA is a Legislative
Mandate

Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
The American with
Disabilities Act is a
legislative mandate
to provide equal
protections and
access of
government facilities
for persons who have
a disability.
 It affects
everything that
officers and
deputies do
9-4





Receiving
citizen
complaints
Interrogating &
interviewing
Arresting,
booking, and
holding
suspects
Enforcing laws
Incarceration
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Interviewing
Accommodations

Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
ADA requires that
government
officials attempt
effective
communication
with individuals
having
disabilities, but
they are not
required to alter
the nature of the
service
9-5

Examples
include:


an interpreter
the use of an
auxiliary aid
such as note
takers,
transcript
services, audio
recordings, or
large print
materials
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Police Liability under ADA

Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
Sporadic claims
against police
departments for
failure to train
officers on
handling persons
with disabilities
have surfaced in
Federal Court
9-6

Police are
expected to
recognize a
situation where a
person has a
disability
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Wrongful-Arrest Claims



Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
Jackson v. Town of Sanford (1994): a man was
arrested for drunk driving but was sober. His
unsteadiness and slurred speech resulted from a
past stroke
Lewis V. Truitt (1997): a deaf man, who could not
understand the commands of the police, was
beat and arrested by police for resisting arrest
Gohier v. Enright (1999): Arrest is being broadly
interpreted to include arrests, violent
confrontations not technically involving an arrest,
and pre-arrest investigations
9-7
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Techniques to avoid
wrongful arrest




Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
Noticing if there is a
handicapped license
plate on the car
Communicating to
people in a crowd to
signal that a person
stop running
By speaking clearly
Using breathalyzers
9-8

Self-confrontation!
 Negative attitudes
may be the largest
impediment to
successful
interviewing
 Speak directly to
the person being
interviewed, even if
they are
accompanied by
another person
 Their condition
should not cause
repulsion,
sympathy, or
admiration
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Identifying When Special
Care is Needed

Communication problems can
result in misleading statements or
inappropriate reactions because of
misunderstanding of events
Excessive apprehension or anxiety
may be evident
 May be incoherent not due to drug
or alcohol

Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
9-9
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Disability may be defined through a
variety of cognitive and communication disabilities
Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
9-10
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Mental Retardation – a Developmental
Disability

Persons with
mental
retardation
possess less than
average ability to
process
information


Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
2% to 10% of the
prison population
Some may not be
able to
understand or
answer questions
9-11






Will exhibit a mood level
that is inconsistent with the
situation
Have a short attention
span
Limited vocabulary
May have a speech
impediment
Unusual behavior traits or
agitation accompanied by
physical activity may also
present itself
Verbal and nonverbal
behaviors may include
yelling, biting, hugging,
rubbing of genital areas, or
breasts
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Mental Illness Defined

Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
Mental illness is a clinically significant
behavioral or psychological syndrome or
pattern that occurs in an individual and
that is associated with present distress
(e.g. a painful symptom) or disability (i.e.,
impairment in one or more important
areas of functioning) or with a significant
increased risk of suffering death, pain,
disability, or an important loss of freedom
9-12
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Persons having mental illness &
mental retardation are highly represented in
the cj system: they are not the same!
Mental Illness





Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
Impacts moods &
emotions
Low or High IQ
Occurs at any time
Disability may be
noticeable
May be associated
with violent outbursts
9-13
Mental
Retardation





Decreased ability to
learn
Low IQ
Occurs before age 18
Unless severe,
disability is not often
noticeable
Persons are usually
not violent
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Categories of Severe
Mental Illness

These are
highly
represented in
the prison
population
Schizophrenia
 Bipolar
disorder
 Serious
depression

Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
9-14
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Schizophrenia


Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
3 to 6 times greater
in the prison
population versus the
general population
This complex disease
may include
disordered thinking or
speech; delusions;
hallucinations;
inappropriate
emotions; confusion;
withdrawal; and
inattention to
personal grooming
9-15


Individuals with this
mental disorder may
present with anxiety,
anger, and aloofness,
argumentativeness,
along with a superior
or patronizing
manner
May be quick to
anger, provocative,
and dangerous
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Bipolar Disorder

Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
Bipolar disorder
(previously called
manic-depressive
disorder) is
characterized by
frequently
dramatic mood
swings from
depressions to
mania
9-16


During manic
phases some
people may be
psychotic and
may experience
delusions or
hallucinations.
In a manic phase
can be disruptive,
quick to anger,
provocative, and
dangerous
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Serious Depression

Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
Puts people at
an increased
risk for suicide
and selfmutilation
9-17

In 2001, a prisoner at
Georgia’s Phillips State
prison who was
mentally ill had had an
extensive history of
self-mutilation, heard
the murder of another
prisoner at the hands of
his cellmate in a nearby
cell. The prisoner
“responded to the
stress by cutting
himself, and was
subsequently given a
disciplinary report and
placed in an isolation
cell for “destruction of
state property.”
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Distant Field


Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
Evaluation
A nonverbal
assessment that
is conducted from
a distance over 3
feet
This is used when
a person attracts
interest in the
field
9-18




Inappropriate
dress
Stumbling or
appearing
confused
Inappropriate
actions with
others
Appears gravely
disabled
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Detailed Field Evaluation

Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
Up-close assessment
to determine if the
subject is mentally
disordered or
physically
handicapped
 The purpose is to
determine if there
are problems that
must be
addressed
9-19



Show of respect &
non-threatening
approach
Speak firmly and
clearly
Show concern
through actions and
words:
 “Are you ok?”
 “Do you need
help?”
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Interview
Considerations

Although these interviews may be
challenging, they involve only a
modification of techniques

A cycle of victimization and abuse
will make it more difficult to
establish rapport
 Be
patient
 Understanding
Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
9-20
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Legal Issues

Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
Research the
statutes that are
specific to protecting
disabled persons in
your state
 Elements of the
crimes against
persons with
disability may be
different crimes
committed
against nondisabled persons
9-21


Specific statutes exist
that protect persons
 Having disability
 Mentally
incapacitated
 Having mental
disability
 Having physical
disability
Specific statutes exist
that protects the
property of special
populations
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Prepare for the Interview

Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
Select a
location that
is quiet and
without
distractions
9-22


Turn off cell
phone or pager
One-on-one
interview is
preferred
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Establishing
Rapport
Methods for

Speak directly to
the interviewee
with respect


Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
Ask the person
what they would
like to be called
Don’t assume the
person wants or
needs help


Keep clear of
wheelchairs
9-23

Avoid touching the
person
 May be touch
toxic
 May feel as
though they can’t
refuse the touch
If inappropriate
touching occurs,
firmly and gently
avoid personal
contact
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Communication during the
Interview




Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
Do not phrase
questions in legal
terms
Do not infantilize
Keep sentences
short and to the
point
Avoid asking
“why”
9-24




Attempt consistency
in communications
Avoid leading
questions and
questions that can be
answered with “yes”
or “no”
If possible, no longer
than 30 minutes
Confirm vocabulary
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Interrogation Considerations – Level
of Functioning

Make a determination on the level
of functioning of the suspect



Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
Can they read, write, answer
simple questions?
Follow up statements suggestive of
guilt by asking for details
Verify that the accused
understands what is being said
9-25
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Miranda Warnings

Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
Provide the
suspect his or
her Miranda
Rights which is
required for all
interrogations
of persons in
custody
9-26
There is no
requirement
that Miranda
rights be given
verbatim
 Explain in a
manner
consistent with
the needs of
the suspect

PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
False Confessions

Smart Talk:
Contemporary Interviewing and Interrogation
By Denise Kindschi Gosselin
Interrogations of
individuals with a
mental retardation is
a concern
 There is a link
between low IQ
and false
confessions
 Avoid
unnecessarily
lengthy
interrogations
9-27

Persons having
mental
retardation
usually want to
please police
officers and may
incriminate
themselves even
when innocent of
any crime
PRENTICE HALL
©2006 Pearson Education, Inc.
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
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Interviewing Persons with Disabilities or Mental Illness