Criminal Justice System, Mental Health, & Substance Use

Criminalization is highly correlated with mental illness, addictions, race, ethnicity, and social class.

The use of feminist and critical criminology approaches are understood to provide fruitful frameworks for exploring a range of issues related to criminalization processes as they are relevant to mental health and substance use for adults and adolescents. Specifically, our researchers are addressing the need to understand the complex interactions between neoliberal reforms (e.g. legislative and policy changes), current discourses about gender, criminality, and substance use and the role of institutions to enable better mental health care responses.

Main Objectives

  • Explore and develop alternative frameworks for understanding criminalization that challenge current discourses and emphasize structural issues including poverty, sexism, racism, and violence.
  • Investigate the impact of neo-liberal policies (e.g. legislative and policy changes), including deinstitutionalization, the restructuring of income assistance, and comparative provincial approaches to developing and implementing legislation for involuntary committals (e.g. Mental Health Acts), on the experiences of marginalized individuals intersecting with the criminal justice, mental health, and substance use care systems.
  • Examine the treatment and movement of marginalized populations within and between spaces of confinement such as psychiatric hospitals, prisons, residential schools, and immigration facilities.