Therapeutic Jurisprudence, Rehabilitation, and Responding to Mental Illness in the Context of Criminal Courts in Remote, Mainly Inuit Arctic Communities
Therapeutic Jurisprudence , Arctic , Methodological Theory , Problem-solving Courts , Inuit Culture , Protective Factors , Recovery , Mental Health Diversion , Criminal Courts , Rehabilitation , Mental Health Rehabilitlation , Qualitative Research , Mental Illness , Case Study , Mental Health
Researchers have recently suggested using the problem-solving court principles that guide criminal court mental health diversion initiatives in large North American cities and elsewhere to deliver similar objectives outside of well-resourced, specialized urban courts. The proliferation of these initiatives is a response to the overrepresentation of people with mental illness caught up in the justice system. But while the “problem-solving court” principles and those of the foundational theoretical approach known as therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ) include the need for an effective “rehabilitative response,” a contemporary understanding of this response from mental health rehabilitation research—including current thinking about the role of culture in mental health recovery—is not well explored. Meanwhile, in the mainly Inuit Canadian Arctic territory of Nunavut, criminal court mental health diversion initiatives do not exist. This dissertation examined the potential for delivering the objectives of criminal court mental health diversion in Nunavut using TJ and problem-solving court principles. A qualitative multiple-case study involving 55 semi-structured interviews as well as three focus groups was used to gather and analyze the experiences of justice personnel, health workers, members of community organizations and other community members in three Nunavut communities (Iqaluit, Arviat, and Qikiqtarjuaq). The study showed that the confounding effects of Inuit culture comprised a dominant issue in conversations about the three most-discussed objectives of TJ and problem-solving principles: identifying mental illness, approaches to treatment and therapeutic services, and interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary collaboration. The impacts of geographic remoteness and resource limitations were of less concern. Themes revealed in conversations about culture showed a clear resonance with culturally responsive concepts from mental health research known as “protective factors” in the mental health of Inuit and other indigenous people. This result suggests a consideration of protective factors may be essential for TJ and problem-solving court thinking in the context of mainly Inuit Arctic communities. Further, the research revealed culturally relevant characteristics of mainly Inuit communities relevant to identifying mental illness that could pose hurdles to importing typical criminal court mental health diversion initiatives across cultural and social boundaries in the Far North.