Therapeutic Jurisprudence: Foundations, Expansion, and Assessment
92 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2021 Last revised: 23 Jun 2021
Date Written: 2021
Founded in 1987 by law professors David Wexler and the late Bruce Winick, therapeutic jurisprudence (or “TJ”) is a multidisciplinary school of legal theory and practice that examines the therapeutic and anti-therapeutic properties of law, policy, and legal institutions. In legal events and transactions, TJ inherently favors outcomes that advance human dignity and psychological well-being. Starting with original groundings in mental health and mental disability law, criminal law, and problem-solving courts, and with a geographic focus on the United States, TJ now embraces many aspects of law and policy and presents a strong international orientation.
This article provides a meta-level examination of the field, including its origins, core doctrinal and theoretical foundations, critical reviews, expansion into many areas of law, procedure, and legal institutions, and connections with other modalities of legal theory and practice. Furthermore, it assesses TJ’s standing and considers opportunities and challenges for the field’s expansion and growth. The intended purpose of this article is two-fold: First, to spur discussions within the TJ community about the past, present, and future of the field; and second, to provide a substantive, yet accessible introduction to TJ for those who wish to learn more about it.
Keywords: therapeutic jurisprudence, legal education, legal theory, legal practice, law and psychology
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