© 2018

Therapeutic Justice

Crime, Treatment Courts and Mental Illness


Table of contents

About this book


This book examines Mental Health Courts (MHC) within a socio-legal framework. Placing these courts within broader trends in criminal justice, especially problem-solving courts, the author draws from two case studies with a mixed-methods design. While court observational and interview data highlight the role of rituals and procedural justice in the practices of the court, quantitative data demonstrates the impact of incentives, mental health treatment compliance and graduating patterns from MHC in altering patterns of criminal recidivism. In utilising these methods, this book provides a new understanding of the social processes by which MHCs operate, while narrative stories from MHC participants illustrate both the potential and limitations of these courts. Concluding by charting potential improvements for the functioning and effectiveness of MHCs, the author suggests potential reforms and ‘best practices’ for the future in tandem with rigorous analysis. This book will be of value and interest to students and scholars of criminology, law, and social work, as well as practitioners.


Mental health Courts Sentencing Methodology Law Criminology Criminal Justice Psychology USA drugs crime prevention justice socio-legal

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Seattle Pacific UniversitySeattleUSA

About the authors

Karen A. Snedker is Associate Professor of Sociology at Seattle Pacific University, USA. She is also Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing, Affiliate Faculty in Sociology and a CSDE Research Affiliate at the University of Washington, USA. Her research interests focus on mental health, homelessness, crime and violence and neighbourhood effects, and she has published widely on these topics.

Bibliographic information


“The intent of this book is to educate workers of mental health court … . The book does an exemplary job of defining the use of the mental health courts, and gives clear guidelines of the execution and achievement of these courts. … This book is highly recommended to anyone beginning employment or research in mental health court. As well as other court and justice professionals who would like to incorporate aspects of therapeutic justice into their work.” (Deborah-Rae Chizek, Journal of Interprofessional Care,, June 6, 2019)

“The book is beneficial in the area of contemporary mental health courts, therapeutic jurisprudence, and criminal justice reform. Therapeutic Justice is a wonderful read for all people vested in better understanding the intersection of mental health and the criminal justice system. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students through faculty.” (M. G. Urbina, Choice, Vol. 56 (05), January, 2019)​