Therapeutic Justice by the numbers

shepp courtsTherapeutic jurisprudence takes a holistic health and legal case management approach to help offenders address underlying health and personal issues that prevent them from dealing with their offending behaviour. It is an area of practice commonly associated with problem solving courts, such as the Koori Court.

Since March 2015, Goulburn Valley CLC’s Therapeutic Justice Program with Primary Care Connect has helped hundreds of clients. So we recently read with interest a guest post on the blog Therapeutic Jurisprudence in the Mainstream. Michael Perlin, Professor Emeritus of Law at New York Law School and International Visiting Scholar RMIT School of Law, reflected on a recent visit to Australia in which he visited the Mental Health Tribunal, the Koori Court and the Neighbourhood Justice Centre.Professor Perlin was impressed by the incorporation of therapeutic justice principles into the daily practice of those working in Victorian Courts. However, he noted ‘administrative and structural obstacles’ limited the potential impact of the courts’ therapeutic practice and called on Court Services Victoria and Corrections Victoria to address these obstacles. In particular he noted:
  • limited access to ‘meaningful’ assessments of offenders’ conditions (e.g. neuropsychological assessments)
  • restrictive Court Integrated Services Program eligibility criteria that prevent prisoners on remand from receiving health and social assistance after their bail hearing
  • ‘troubling’ failures by correctional services to transfer prisoners to court and to inform Legal Aid that their clients were in prison

Our Managing Lawyer, Kaz Gurney, commented on Professor Perlin’s post and drew attention to positive Shepparton crime statistics:

‘According to the most recently released Crime Statistics for Victoria, the Statewide average breach rate is 10.7% whereas the breach rate in Shepparton is 4.9%. This against a background that has the offending rate in Shepparton close to 14,000 per 100,000 and the Statewide average not much more than 8,000. While credit for this massive reduction in re-offending must be shared with our dedicated Magistrates, Police and Corrections we certainly claim to have made a substantial, positive difference to the lives of our clients and corresponding improvement in the social structure of our community.’

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