Liminality and Mental Health Court Diversion: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Offender Experiences
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Seriously mentally ill people are a 'revolving-door' population in criminal justice systems where they cycle in and out of courts and jails. In response and consonant with the principles of therapeutic jurisprudence, mental health courts (MHCs) have flourished in North America and Western Europe in attempts to divert this population away from jail and provision them with the social services they require to avoid legal contact. Little research has focused on the perspective of the accused in MHCs and there has been little information about which aspects of the court and diversion processes contribute to therapeutic processes in MHCs. This qualitative study reports the experiences of nine successful graduates of a Canadian MHC. The data were analysed according to the principles of interpretative phenomenological analysis. The marginality of the accused and their liminal experiences in mental health court diversion are discussed. Social workers have a role to play in the success of clients in diversion and the results of this study may influence service delivery.