Weaving strands with therapeutic jurisprudence

16 July 2015

Health, cultural and social service professionals will join forces with judges, lawyers and criminal justice experts at New Zealand’s first conference in therapeutic jurisprudence at the University of Auckland in September.

Speakers and attendees from around the world will attend the fourth international Therapeutic Jurisprudence conference, “Weaving Strands: Ngā Whenu Rāranga”.

The theme signifies the unique interlacing of cultural, legal, psychological and social practice and philosophy in Aotearoa New Zealand with the international concept of therapeutic jurisprudence.

The two-day event, the ‘2015 Aotearoa Conference on Therapeutic Jurisprudence’ has attracted an impressive line-up of keynote speakers, led by one of the architects of this field, Professor David Wexler from the University of Puerto Rico.

Professor Wexler will speak on the future of therapeutic jurisprudence, highlighting moves in the United States, Australia and New Zealand to “mainstream” the approach into legal systems.

Other invited speakers include experts in legal and forensic medicine from Auckland, New York and Australia, including Professors Michael Perlin and Ian Freckleton and from New Zealand, Senior Lecturer Khylee Quince, Professor Chris Marshall, Judge Lisa Tremewan and Rawiri Pene.

Sessions at the conference include victim perspectives in criminal justice, best practise in court innovation, mental health intersections with the law, cultural perspectives and transformation of legal spaces, and youth and the criminal justice system.

Local organisers for the Conference are Katey Thom from the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences and Professor Warren Brookbanks from the Faculty of Law at the University of Auckland.

Professor Brookbanks, an acknowledged expert on Therapeutic Jurisprudence, will launch his book entitled ‘Therapeutic Jurisprudence: New Zealand Perspectives’ at the conference, and a copy of the book is included in all full Conference registrations. Certificates of attendance are available for professional CPD requirements.

The Therapeutic Jurisprudence approach is used in problem-solving, solution-focused courts – such as drug treatment courts – where it is recognised that punishment doesn’t solve the fundamental problem of addiction.

Remedial efforts are instead focussed on addressing the underlying causes of some offending whilst still holding offenders accountable.  The hope of Therapeutic Jurisprudence practitioners and commentators is that this approach can be extended into “mainstream” law, principally in the criminal law area.

“Insights of the social sciences, especially psychology, criminology and social work, can be used to inform this next part of the process, and elements such as reinforcement of desistance from crime and the techniques of relapse prevention planning, can be brought into the legal realm,” says Professor Wexler.

“Therapeutic Jurisprudence is a menu of conceptual tools or approaches for confronting the dysfunctional elements within legal institutions and procedures,” says Professor Brookbanks. “Its goal is to bring about change which affirms the status of people as subjects, not objects, within the multitude of legal procedures that comprise the domain of the law.”

For the conference website and registration, and more information on the full programme go to; http://tjaotearoa.org.nz/

Keynote Speakers

Professor Ian Freckleton (Australia) is a Queen’s Counsel at the Bars of Victoria, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. He is also a Professorial Fellow in Law and Psychiatry at the University of Melbourne, an Adjunct Professor in Law and Forensic Medicine at Monash University, an Adjunct Professor of Law at La Trobe University and an Adjunct Professor at the Auckland University of Technology. He is an elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law, the Australian Academy of Social Sciences, and the Australasian College of Legal Medicine. He is the Editor of the Journal of Law and Medicine and the Editor-in-Chief of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law. He is a member of Victoria’s Mental Health Tribunal and Coronial Council. Ian has written extensively on issues related to therapeutic jurisprudence.

Professor Chris Marshall (Wellington) holds the Diana Unwin Chair in Restorative Justice in the School of Government at Victoria University of Wellington. Professor Marshall is internationally renowned for his seminal work in the area of restorative justice and is a qualified restorative justice facilitator. A key theme across his work has been healing for victims of crime through the use in restorative justice approaches within the criminal justice system. With the expansion of restorative justice approaches in New Zealand occurring as rapidly as therapeutic jurisprudence practices, Professor Marshall’s keynote will focus on intersections between these two legal philosophies and the sea change underway in New Zealand in many sectors around how best to deal with conflict, crime and related harms.

Professor Michael Perlin (New York) is a professor of law at New York Law School, where he is Director of the International Mental Disability Law Reform Project and Director of the Online Mental Disability Law Program. He is the author of 20 books and over 300 articles on all aspects of mental disability law. Professor Michael Perlin’s keynote will focus on the potential for therapeutic jurisprudence within the context of human rights.

 Ms Khylee Quince (Auckland) is a leading Maori academic in the field of youth justice and criminal law. She established the first specialised elective course in Youth Justice, and has recently published “Youth Justice in Aotearoa” (LexisNexis 2014), the first law and policy critique of our unique specialised youth justice system. Khylee (from the University of Auckland Law School) has been recognized for her outstanding teaching in law, most recently being awarded the National Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award for sustained excellence in 2014. Khylee will provide the opening address for the conference, initiating our thinking on weaving strands in Aotearoa to be carried on through the conference days.

Judge Lisa Tremewan (Auckland) sits in Waitakere District Court and was instrumental in the development and implementation of New Zealand’s first adult Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment (AODT) Court – Te Whare Whakapiki Wairua. Judge Tremewan has also been involved in the continuing expansion of specialist courts in New Zealand and, with Rawiri Pene, Pou Oranga for the court, is particularly focused on ensuring the cultural needs of Maori entering the courts are met. The focus of Judge Tremewan and Rawiri Pene’s keynote will be on the unique ways in which therapeutic jurisprudence practices are being applied in the context of the AODT Court pilot.

Professor David Wexler, (Puerto Rico) alongside colleague Bruce Winick, is the architect of therapeutic jurisprudence. Professor Wexler has written many books on the concept and continues to collaborate across the world with colleagues to develop the use of therapeutic jurisprudence in novel ways. The focus of Professor Wexler’s keynote will be on the future of therapeutic jurisprudence, highlighting moves in the United States, Australia and New Zealand to “mainstream” the approach into legal systems.

For media enquiries email s.phillips@auckland.ac.nz