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2012 - The Law and Society Association Pages: unavailable || Words: 9958 words || 
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1. Spencer, Pauline. "To Dream the Impossible Dream? Therapeutic Jurisprudence in Mainstream Courts" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association, Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort, Honolulu, HI, Jun 03, 2012 Online <APPLICATION/PDF>. 2019-05-22 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p558051_index.html>
Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: In the 1980s Professor David Wexler and Professor Bruce Winick introduced the concept of therapeutic jurisprudence. Therapeutic jurisprudence explores how the law and legal process can result in either therapeutic or anti-therapeutic consequences for people.

Therapeutic approaches have emerged in a range of jurisdictions. Therapeutic approaches are referred to as non-adversarial, problem solving or solutions-focused approaches. They have been implemented in specialist or problem-solving courts including community courts, drug courts, mental health courts, indigenous courts and family violence courts. Specialist courts are characterised by legislative reform, specialist staff and judiciary, multi-disciplinary teams, tailor made processes and additional resources.

While specialist courts are becoming more common in a range of countries, the majority of cases continue to be dealt with in mainstream court settings. Mainstream courts often are often characterised by large caseloads, limited time, backlogs, scarce resources and generalist staff and judiciary.

This paper poses the question - Is it possible to apply therapeutic jurisprudence approaches in mainstream courts?

The paper will focus on mainstream criminal jurisdiction and explore:

• the underling theory of therapeutic jurisprudence;

• opportunities and barriers to implementation of therapeutic approaches in mainstream courts;

• examples of therapeutic approaches in Victoria, Australia;

• whether it possible to implement therapeutic approaches without broader systemic change;

• what changes to the law, court processes and government policy are needed to better support therapeutic jurisprudence in mainstream settings;

• recommendations for making mainstream courts more therapeutic.

The author, Pauline Spencer, is a judicial officer in a busy multi-jurisdictional court in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.


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