206516 Mental Health Courts' Potential for Promoting Recovery

Monday, November 9, 2009: 1:42 PM

Josh Koerner , CHOICE, New Rochelle, NY
Philip Yanos, PhD , Psychology Department, John Jay College of Criminal Justice CUNY, New York, NY
Christina Pratt, PhD , Center to Study Recovery in Social Contexts, Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, Orangeburg, NY
: The Capabilities approach prompts us to consider possibilities for recovering valued doings and beings in specific contexts. People with mental illness often experience multiple cycles through the justice system, a context likely to diminish their ability to aspire to a live worth living. These frequent failures also reduces their life expectancy, distresses their families and neighborhoods, and impacts public safety and spending. Currently, approximately 175 mental health courts in the U.S. operate to divert them from incarceration, but it is unclear which of their locally determined key practices produce sustainable success. Little research goes beyond procedural study of MH Courts to explore whether and how key players conceptualize recovery possibilities among mental health consumers, and how they might incorporate recovery into the Courts' decisions and actions. In particular, a key actor in the MH Court model - the judge – has seldom been studied.

We present qualitative results based on observation and interviews with key actors – judge, Assistant District Attorney, public MH representatives, Case Managers and individuals charged with crimes - with attention to the attitudes that under gird their actions. We especially focus on the presence of positive expectancies, a hallmark of recovery oriented services, and the impact of those expectancies from a judge on other key players and on defendants' experience of MH Court.

Learning Objectives:
1. Demonstrate how Capabilities can inform MH Court outcomes 2. Assess attitudes of key MH Court actors to recovery 3. Describe the impact of positive expectancies on defendants’ Court experience.

Keywords: Criminal Justice, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been conducting research and presenting findings of research for the past 10 years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.