What judicial officers say about youth justice…

Interviews with Children’s Court magistrates in New South Wales, Australia, provide a rare insight into the views of those working everyday at the coal face of youth justice…

The research of Kelly Richards, Lorana Bartels and Jane Bolitho suggests:

  • magistrates were enthusiastic about the philosophy of both restorative justice and therapeutic jurisprudence measures.
  • magistrates were reluctant to embrace these approaches if they consider them under-resourced, poorly understood and/or poorly implemented.
  • there was support for the more intensive model that TJ measures can provide in response to youth offending.
  • magistrates’ support for therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ) measures was premised broadly on a view that addressing youth offending requires a multi-agency, wraparound approach that traditional court approaches cannot provide.
  • youth justice restorative conferences were supported because magistrates believed they can help young people develop empathy, face the consequences of their actions and take responsibility for their behaviour.
  • the TJ-oriented model then in operation in NSW was supported on the grounds that it provided young people with an intensive, multi-agency response to their complex offending-related needs. However, both of these models were considered to be under-utilised and poorly resourced.
  • magistrates believed that early intervention measures that keep young people out of trouble in the first place were preferable to court.
  • they believed that young people already in trouble require an approach that intensively addresses their offending-related needs (e.g. health, education, substance abuse) via an intensive, well- resourced, coordinated multi-agency approach.

The authors made several recommendations for the improved operation of the NSW Children’s Court, including:

  • the need to properly resource and support TJ and RJ initiatives,
  • the need to reinstate the TJ-oriented Youth Drug and Alcohol Court; and
  • improved judicial education and training.

The research was part of a national study of Children’s Courts in Australia about a wide range of topics.  The NSW component of the study included semi-structured qualitative interviews with all 12 Children’s Court magistrates in NSW. The NSW Children’s Court deals with the vast majority of offences alleged to have been committed by young people that have not been resolved by youth justice conferencing, but it does not have jurisdiction over serious indictable offences (i.e. homicide and offences punishable by 25 years’ or life imprisonment).

Read the full paper here.

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From Therapeutic Jurisprudence to Roper: When Social Science Serves as Authority in Law

Guest blogger Andrew Siske, Center for Families, Children and the Courts, Student Fellow (2016-2017) explores the role that social science can play in the law…

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Chief Justice: Non-adversarial approaches in criminal and civil law essential to “effective justice”

Court decision on Roe8 legal challenge

At the recent Second International Conference on Non-adversarial Justice: integrating theory and practice The Honourable Wayne Martin AC Chief Justice of Western Australia noted the limitations  of a purely adversarial system and proposed  that development and expansion of the principles of non-adversarial justice is essential if the criminal and civil legal systems are to provide effective justice to the communities which we all serve. 

Read the full address here.



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Problem Solving Courts in Australia: The Application of Therapeutic Jurisprudence – Mostly

Guest blogger Michael Perlin, Professor Emeritus of Law, New York Law School and International Visiting Scholar RMIT School of Law reflects on his recent visit to Australia…

I am now back home in New Jersey after a remarkable trip to Australia.*  I am doing this blog post now to share some ideas I have about the impact of Therapeutic Jurisprudence (TJ) on the Australian judicial system, and some thoughts for the future.

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Law student wellbeing in the UK: Developments and directions

Guest blogger Emma Jones, Lecturer in Law, The Open University Law School, writes…
Therapeutic jurisprudence focuses on the law’s impact on psychological wellbeing. In doing so, it not only consider the implications of specific laws or legal practices and procedures, it also considers the wellbeing of legal actors. This includes not only members of the legal profession, but also other affected, such as clients, witnesses and law students.

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What can mainstream courts learn from aboriginal sentencing courts…

Guest blogger Jordan Tutton writes…

In early 2016, a young Indigenous Australian man robbed a liquor store in the southern suburbs of Adelaide, South Australia. He pleaded guilty and asked to be sentenced in a specialist criminal court established to sentence Indigenous Australians.

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Posted in courts, Criminal Justice, indigenous, judiciary, lawyers, legal education, mainstreaming TJ, prosecutors, sentencing, youth/juvenile justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Creating a Re-Entry Court by wagging the probation tail

Guest bloggers Professor David B. Wexler &  Judge Michael D. Jones  (Retired) talk about how to improve people’s chances of successful transition from prison to community through a therapeutic application of existing law…

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