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Crime and punishment – real world alternatives

In this paper published by Inside Story (4.3.15) Russell Marks provides an overview of his recent book, and argues that the justice system has the capacity to take account of offenders’ often complex problems. 

‘Aboriginal courts, drug courts, the Assessment and Referral Court List and the Neighbourhood Justice Centre are all functioning examples of what’s known as therapeutic jurisprudence. Unlike the classical criminal justice model, which is mostly concerned with establishing guilt or innocence and aims to punish the offender’s “choice” to behave criminally, therapeutic jurisprudence accepts that certain kinds of disadvantage – drug dependency, mental illness and brain damage – are strikingly implicated in offending behaviour. Working on the assumption that criminality for dysfunctional people is a symptom of their dysfunction, therapeutically oriented courts aim to address that dysfunction with intensive intervention over a period of months or years.’

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