Mentally ill offenders' experiences in a community-based supervised treatment program

Date
2004-08
Authors
Campbell, Lucindra
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Abstract

This study's purpose was to explore the experiences of mentally ill offenders (MIOs), as residents currently participating in an innovative and highly successful community-based program. Data were collected from MIOs who were currently in the program and program staff (key informants) who were employed with the program. The program was located in the southwestern region of the United States. These experiences were explored through qualitative research methods. A purposeful sample of 12 MIOs and 3 program staff was drawn for the study. Participants were interviewed by use of semi-structured mentally ill offender and key informant interview protocol guides. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Participant observation also was used to gather data. Field notes were completed and used as a method for registering data collected during participant observation. A pilot study was conducted to assess the proposed study methodology. Analysis of the data used a modified process analysis and grounded theory methodologies. Findings suggest that although similar programs are provided for this population, services are not provided to the same extent. The low rate of recidivism in this program, less than 2%, can be explained by the intensity of support and extensive resources that are available. Findings also indicated that MIOs' experiences evolved through a process of moving through and surviving the program. The stages of this process include: “Learning the rules,” “Understanding the consequences (not following the program),” “Trying to fit in,” “Keeping their noses clean,” “Maintaining focus,” and the final challenge of “Getting off paper” and moving on.

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Keywords
Health and environmental sciences, Social sciences, Community-based treatment programs, Mentally ill, Offenders
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