“Therapeutic jurisprudence” is a mouthful, yes? But let’s think about it: How much better would our laws and legal systems be if they were designed mainly to encourage psychologically healthy outcomes? If you understand the significance of this question, then you now comprehend the essence of therapeutic jurisprudence and why it’s so important. Quote: David Yamada
Therapeutic jurisprudence is a lens through which we can examine our laws and legal system with a view to improving the wellbeing of the people and communities affected by these laws and legal systems.
Therapeutic jurisprudence provides a bridge between the law and other disciplines that can help us improve wellbeing such as psychology, criminology, behavioural sciences, addiction treatment and mental health recovery.
Therapeutic jurisprudence thinking invites us to learn from these other disciplines about “what works” and to see if we can translate that into:
- A change to an actual law;
- A reform of a legal processes or system; and/or
- How legal actors (judges, lawyers, prosecutors, probation officers) might perform their roles differently.
Innovators using a TJ approach will often collaborate with other disciplines in terms of program design, service delivery and research and evaluation.
TJ approaches can be applied in any area of the law. Some areas where TJ thinking has been used include criminal law, family and children’s law, employment law, mental health law, wills and estate planning and civil litigation.
Over the years many tools and practices have emerged from the application of TJ thinking. In the criminal justice area, for example, judges might use procedural justice and behaviour change techniques in court review hearings or courts might collaborate with treatment or support agencies to support offender recovery.
TJ is a a way of thinking. As such it allows us to be dynamic and evolving rather than prescriptive. TJ thinking allows us to continually draw on the evolving knowledge in the social sciences, to translate that into our law and legal systems and to trial, evaluate and continually improve.
Finally TJ is a comprehensive and truly international field of scholarship. This blog is supported by an advisory group of people from 18 countries around the world and this blog hosts links to many useful resources.
What does TJ mean to you? Post your comment below…
Some useful TJ links:
- some great examples of TJ thinking in action
- excellent resources introducing TJ and for law teachers
- links to a vast array of resources including in different languages
- David Wexler’s useful methodology for thinking about law and legal system reform
- How to do TJ research piece by Dr Nigel Stobbs