Editorial: Current Issues in Therapeutic Jurisprudence
On behalf of the guest editors of this special issue, leading scholars and practitioners in the therapeutic jurisprudence (‘TJ’) field in Australia, Europe, and the US, we congratulate QUT and the authors for a valuable contribution to the increasingly influential presence of TJ on the international stage.
TJ had its genesis in the early 1990s as a new interdisciplinary approach to mental health law in the US, but has expanded remarkably in scope, reach and influence since then. TJ sees law as a social force which inevitably gives rise to unintended consequences, which may be either beneficial or harmful (what we have come to identify as therapeutic or anti-therapeutic consequences). These consequences flow from the operation of substantive rules, legal procedures, or from the behaviour of legal actors (such as lawyers and judges). It is in this sense that we conceive of the role of the law as a ‘therapeutic agent’. TJ researchers and practitioners typically make use of social science methods and data to study the extent to which a legal rule or practice affects the psychological well-being of the people it affects, and then explore ways in which anti-therapeutic consequences can be reduced, and therapeutic consequences enhanced, without breaching due process requirements. The jurisdiction with which TJ was most often associated in its earlier days tended to the that of the drug courts (in which the drug court team assists drug addicted offenders to break out of their cycle of offending by facilitating and supervising treatment programs as part of the court process itself) and the other so-called problem solving courts (more commonly referred to as ‘solution focussed courts’ in Australia).