Talking the Talk: Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Oral Competence
(2013) 38(1) Alternative Law Journal 31
7 Pages Posted: 11 May 2013
Date Written: August 1, 2012
Problem-oriented justice and therapeutic jurisprudence seek to incorporate innovative court practices to tackle offenders’ behaviour and the problems associated with offending (e.g. substance abuse, mental health issues). A common feature of this approach is the emphasis on ensuring defendants play an active role in the criminal justice process. In traditional court processes, by contrast, little active engagement by offenders is expected – or even desired. However, active engagement by defendants presupposes adequate communication skills. The issue of offenders’ language competence has received relatively little attention in the context of their involvement in the criminal justice system, and appears to primarily consider young offenders. Furthermore, the emerging literature has focused on restorative justice, rather than therapeutic jurisprudential, approaches. This paper seeks to fill this gap by examining the evidence on offenders’ oral competence and the measures taken in Australia and internationally to incorporate discussion of oral competence in a therapeutic jurisprudence framework. The paper concludes with recommendations for future research, policy and practice in this context.
Keywords: therapeutic jurisprudence, oral competence, language skills
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