eLaw Journal: Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law, Vol 18, No 1 (2011)

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A Cautionary Note on Therapeutic Jurisprudence for Aboriginal Offenders

Ann-Claire Larsen, Peter Milnes


Therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ) is a recent legal practice reform, requiring judges and lawyers to attend to offenders’ wellbeing. Despite being lauded as the ‘most prolific vector’ of the Comprehensive Law Movement, TJ has also been condemned as ineffectual, even dangerous. In this paper we review TJ in three sections: the problems TJ seeks to address, how TJ is applied and its requirements, and the new problems TJ produces. This paper exposes tensions between established legal principles and efficacy or recidivism concerns that drive the TJ agenda. It concludes that a judiciary that concerns itself with offenders’ social and psychological problems may undermine established legal principles.

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