Document Type


Publication Title

IAFOR Journal of Psychology & the Behavioral Sciences

Publication Date



Published in: IAFOR Journal of Psychology & the Behavioral Sciences, vol. 9, issue 1, summer, 2023.


Non-criminal preventive detention is justified by both the state’s parens patriae and police power roles. Individuals with mental illness and individuals with a highly communicable, potentially lethal disease can be involuntarily detained. Modern applications of quarantine have led to higher court decisions that address the balance between liberty and public health and safety. The inherent tensions that underlie quarantine law – individual liberty versus public safety – are apparent in our contemporary, COVID-19 America. Consequently, much of the current discussion appears to have political overtones. In order to empirically address this issue, in the current study we examine attitudes towards preventive detention within the context of resisting quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, we investigate whether participants report pre- and post-COVID differences in their tolerance for ambiguity, perceived vulnerability to disease and endorsement of procedural justice. Finally, to test the presence of political overtones, we examine the predictive ability of political ideology on participants’ endorsement of preventive detention. We observed a significant association between participants identified as Right Wing and support for non-criminal preventive detention. Our findings add to evidence that assessment of and response to the COVID-19 pandemic is sharply divided along political ideologies.