Exploring the Discursive Construction of the Drug Court Participant in Appellate Cases

Author: Danielle Misell

Misell, Danielle, 2018 Exploring the Discursive Construction of the Drug Court Participant in Appellate Cases, Flinders University, College of Business, Government and Law

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This thesis examines the intersection between the therapeutic context of treatment in a drug court program and subsequent formal legal sentencing and appeal process. During treatment, drug courts operate within a less formal and less adversarial context and adopt language and concepts consistent with the therapeutic goal of treating drug dependence. In contrast, sentencing and appeal occurs within a more formalised legal adversarial setting. This suggests fundamental differences in social practice between treatment in a drug court and sentencing and appeal. During treatment, much information is generated to assist the drug court team to monitor compliance with program requirements and assess progress towards recovery. This thesis seeks to understand how this information is considered later in formal legal contexts. By focussing on discourse in appeal decisions which feature former participants from the Drug Court of South Australia, the research explores how the courts discursively represent former drug court participants using different sources of information provided for the appeal process. This includes, but is not limited to, information about an appellant’s progress or non-progress whilst participating in the program. The research design is qualitative and uses case study and critical discourse analysis to locate and analyse discourse in these legal texts. An overview of literature finds some research which explores the discursive construction of drug court participants during program participation. There is research which considers treatment and legal discourses that arise in drug court programs. A large body of research exists which focusses on how criminal courts discursively construct the defendant/appellant. There is little research seeking to understand the ways discourse about program participation is later recontextualised in formal legal contexts.

Keywords: Drug Court, Discourse Analysis, Appeal Decisions, Disciplinary Power, Norms, Surveillance, Compliance, Rehabilitation, Incapacitation, Deterrence, Risk, Punishment

Subject: Law thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2018
School: College of Business, Government and Law
Supervisor: Emeritus Professor Kathy Mack