Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Restraint of prisoners-Vermont, Restraint of patients-Vermont, Law enforcement-Vermont-Decision-making, Prisoners-Transportation, Involuntary treatment, Mentally ill-Commitment and detention, Law enforcement, Mental health, Restraints, Transport, Crisis, Involuntary commitment, Decisionmaking


This study explored what factors most influence Vermont sheriffs' decision-making regarding the use of mechanical restraints for the transports of individuals on 'involuntary status' to psychiatric facilities for care. It also examined what initiatives contributed to a marked and progressively downward-trending statewide rate of restraint use since 2012. Six county Sheriffs and 47 deputies from nine of 14 counties completed a mixedmethods survey that inquired about officer, departmental, policy, resource, and training factors. As each of Vermont's Sheriffs sets his own departmental policy regarding use of restraints this study paid particular attention to how officers' available level of discretion interacted with the other factors. The major finding was that Sheriffs' individual county policies influence deputies' restraint practices more than all other factors, including state law. Those deputies whose sheriffs had a blanket policy of restraint use appeared less able to exercise their personal discretion than those whose sheriffs had policies of no-restraint use. Respondents were evenly split regarding support for a statewide sheriffs' policy governing use of restraints. A mental health van pilot project and specialized sheriffs mental health trainings led initiatives responsible for a marked decrease in the statewide use of restraints since 2012. Robust mental health and law enforcement collaboration has been crucial to this advancement in humane mental health transport practices.




iv, 120 pages : illustrations. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 88-91)