The advent of ‘problem-solving courts’ (e.g. drug courts, mental health courts and lists) is claimed by some to represent a significant shift in the administration of justice, through the adoption of a more ‘holistic’ and ‘generous’ approach to offenders. Although there is a large body of research examining the operation and efficacy of such courts, there is minimal critical research on how these courts conceptualise both ‘problems’ and ‘problem populations’, or the various implications thereof. In this chapter, we examine these issues via the theoretical framework of Carol Bacchi. Bacchi argues that policy ‘problems’ do not precede policy interventions, but that ‘problems’ are in fact constituted by and given meaning through implicit policy representations. This chapter extends this work further, considering how two Australian problem-solving courts (Victoria’s drug court and mental health list) conceptualise their target populations and the ‘problems’ they seek to solve in relation to them. The chapter considers how these processes constitute particular subjects (‘addicts’, the ‘disabled’ and the ‘mentally ill’) as abnormal, fixing connections, in the process, between drugs, disability, mental illness, normalcy and crime.
|Title of host publication||Critical Perspectives on Coercive Interventions|
|Subtitle of host publication||Law, Medicine and Society|
|Editors||Claire Spivanovsky, Kate Seear, Adrian Carter|
|Place of Publication||Abingdon UK|
|Number of pages||16|
|Publication status||Published - 2018|
Spivakovsky, C., & Seear, K. (2018). Making the abject: problem-solving courts, addiction, mental illness and impairment. In C. Spivanovsky, K. Seear, & A. Carter (Eds.), Critical Perspectives on Coercive Interventions: Law, Medicine and Society (1st ed., pp. 119-134). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315158693-11