Recovery of Offenders Formerly Labeled as Not Criminally Responsible: Uncovering the Ambiguity From First-Person Narratives [2017]

The recovery paradigm is a widely accepted strength-based approach in general mental health care. Particular challenges arise when applying this paradigm in a forensic context. To address these issues, the present study examined recovery based on first-person narratives of offenders formerly labeled as not criminally responsible of whom the judicial measure was abrogated. Eleven in-depth interviews were conducted to obtain information on lived experiences and recovery resources of this hard-to-reach and understudied population. The interviews focused on recovery and elements that indicated a sense of progress in life. Key themes were derived from the collected data. Descriptions of recovery resources followed recurrent themes, including clinical, functional, social, and personal resources. Participants also reported ambiguous experiences related to features of the judicial trajectory. This was defined as forensic recovery and can be seen as an additional mechanism, besides more established recovery dimensions, that is unique to mentally ill offenders.

Natalie Aga, Freya Vander Laenen, Stijn Vandevelde, Elke Vermeersch, Wouter Vanderplasschen
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, September 12, 2017