Improving therapeutic outcomes for defendants : measuring the therapeutic contributions of legal actors
The question of how to improve therapeutic outcomes for defendants with mental health concerns moving through criminal court systems is an enduring dilemma. Unfortunately, research suggests that mainstream criminal court experiences can themselves be criminogenic and the question becomes even more complex when dealing with individuals experiencing mental illness, social disadvantage, drug addiction, or other endemic social problems.
This thesis examines the possible methods of action within the court system to improve outcomes for the above identified group of defendants, firstly by reviewing the possibilities offered by legal reform, diversion to mental health and other services, and mainstreaming therapeutic jurisprudence principles to the magistrates criminal courts. After finding limitations to all in terms of the likelihood of non-optimal therapeutic outcomes, the thesis then focusses on how to utilise therapeutic jurisprudence principles to change the qualitative nature of court experiences so as to render them a powerful venue for therapeutic change themselves. This goal is realized by the development of a behavioural description of desirable magistrate behaviours when interacting with a defendant within a courtroom so as to have the best chance of facilitating therapeutic change for a defendant. This behavioural description is the first evidence-based description of its kind, derived from the literature on common denominators of therapeutic change, procedural justice and legitimacy of justice, and founded in ‘court craft’ descriptions of therapeutic jurisprudence.
- PhD Thesis