The International and Interdisciplinary Project to Mainstream Therapeutic Jurisprudence (TJ) in Criminal Courts: An Update, a Law School Component, and an Invitation
Alaska Journal of Dispute Resolution (2014 Forthcoming)
15 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2014 Last revised: 23 Nov 2014
Date Written: March 1, 2014
This brief essay describes our international and interdisciplinary project, “Integrating the Healing Approach to Criminal Law,” formally launched as part of the Innovating Justice Forum of HiiL — the Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law. The project is an effort to apply principles of therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ) in the ordinary criminal and juvenile law systems, beyond the setting of special “problem-solving courts,” such as drug treatment courts and mental health courts, where TJ is best known.
In the mainstreaming effort, we use a metaphor speaking of the TJ practices and techniques as “wine” and the legal structures and processes as “bottles.” The methodology is to examine the bottles and to see the extent to which they can accommodate the wine of TJ. If accommodation is possible, the next step should be to see how those who work with the law may implement it using more of the TJ practices. If the fit is not a good one, attention should turn to the need for and the practicality of actual law reform.
This essay invites others to join in the effort and, in particular, it describes a law school class at the University of Puerto Rico designed to launch the project locally. The law school course model can serve as an important component of the mainstreaming effort by tapping the research skills of law students (and occasional graduate students from other disciplines). At the same time, by asking the students to in essence serve as staff members of a law reform commission, the course should open an opportunity to provide students with a clinical and experiential working environment. As such, it ties in with the goal of expanding the clinical curriculum beyond the more common realm of litigation.
Keywords: therapeutic jurisprudence, mainstreaming therapeutic jurisprudence, TJ, criminal law and procedure, diversion, sentencing, parole, legal clinics, clinical education, legal education, law reform, legislation
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