Are problem-solving courts the way forward for justice?

Document type
Working Paper
Ward, Jenni
Howard League for Penal Reform
Date of publication
1 May 2014
What is justice? Working papers; 2/2014
Criminal Justice Services, Offenders, Resettlement
Social welfare
Material type

Download (338KB )

Problem-solving courts are not a new innovation, but their use and implementation appears to be growing across a number of jurisdictions, including the UK. This development suggests there is belief in the ‘therapeutic jurisprudence’ approach that underpins this style of criminal court adjudication; moreover their growth fits within the discourse which points out traditional criminal justice mechanisms too often leave the offender out as an uninvolved actor in the process. Processes that draw people in more closely, making them accountable for their actions, and playing an active role in their rehabilitation are more likely to achieve success at reducing reoffending and assisting people to live altered and reformed lives. This working paper provides some background detail on problem-solving courts and the central guiding principle of therapeutic jurisprudence, and argues court structures that assist people to construct positive self-identities and reintegrate into purposeful lives, and which empower people to play a role in their rehabilitation demonstrate a criminal justice model that has well-being at its core, and puts a human face to the delivery of justice.

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