Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




"Cheerleaders and Performers: Mental Health Courts in a Midwestern State" by Monte D. Staton

This dissertation presents a statewide study focusing on a recently developed technique for dealing with persons with mental illness in the criminal justice system: mental health court (MHC). This study of nine MHC programs utilized surveys, interviews, and ethnographic observations to examine the work activities and understandings of the criminal justice and mental health professionals who administer and operate the programs in a Midwestern state. Data were analyzed by combining Goffman's dramaturgical analysis with Dorothy E. Smith's institutional ethnography. Findings reveal that MHC professionals engage in personal and textual interaction with each other and with offenders who have mental illness. The professionals make judgments of performance of mentally ill offenders and operate the program as a filter so that a relatively small number of persons graduate from the program. These findings are discussed and further analyzed using Foucault's concept of governmentality and ethics of social justice.

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