Topic: Therapeutic policing: police as therapeutic agents

Presenter: Helen Punter - PhD Candidate, TC Beirne School of Law

Therapeutic jurisprudence focuses on the "extent to which substantive rules, legal procedures, and the roles of lawyers and judges produce therapeutic or anti-therapeutic consequences" (Wexler & Winick, 1991, p. ix). In other words, it considers whether these elements of the criminal justice system are affecting an individuals’ emotional and psychological well-being in a negative or positive manner. Therapeutic jurisprudence is largely aimed at court processes (e.g., drug courts; mental health committals) to ensure that these processes are therapeutic as oppose to anti-therapeutic in nature; for many who come into contact with the Criminal Justice System this may be too late as their contact could be limited to the initial police-citizen interaction. It is suggested that a therapeutic approach needs to occur at the front end of the CJS; with police officers. This research intends to explore the role of police, through a therapeutic jurisprudence lens to determine whether the laws governing police interactions in respect to the policing of persons with mental illness are therapeutic or anti-therapeutic.

All welcome, no RSVP required.

Contact: Claire Lam, ph: (336) 57903, email:

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