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Crime-Prevention Jurisprudence?: A Response to Andrews and Dowden

NCJ Number
Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice Volume: 51 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2009 Pages: 93-117
Astrid Birgden
Date Published
January 2009
25 pages
This response to Andrews and Dowden’s article proposing that both offender and victim well-being could be enhanced by using the risk-need-responsivity model, rather than therapy, focuses on their claim that therapeutic jurisprudence is a mental-health concept that focuses on offenders without a demonstrated concern for victims.
This response argues that Andrews and Dowden have failed to appreciate that therapeutic jurisprudence is a legal concept that uses social-science knowledge to highlight the therapeutic and anti-therapeutic impacts of the law, legal procedures, and legal roles on all individuals, including victims. In addition to challenging Andrews and Dowden’s claim that therapeutic jurisprudence is therapy, this response also challenges two other claims, i.e., that therapeutic jurisprudence fails to support reduced reoffending and that crime-prevention jurisprudence is superior to therapeutic jurisprudence. This response argues that in dismissing the value and benefits of therapeutic jurisprudence, Andrews and Dowden cite only two articles published by psychologists. These articles are not representative of the base therapeutic-jurisprudence literature available in both Canada and internationally. Enhanced community protection requires a balance between community rights (crime prevention for victims) and offender rights (autonomy for the individual). Therapeutic jurisprudence can ensure the required balance while creating a culture of dialog that integrates ideas from multiple disciplines. With its humanistic approach, therapeutic jurisprudence provides the required ethical and legal framework for the law, legal procedures, and therapeutic legal roles. The crime-prevention jurisprudence favored by Andrews and Dowden cannot make this claim. 4 notes and 68 references