Sentencing for family violence through the lens of therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ): employing a ‘TJ approach’ to evaluate judicial court-craft

Ms Christina (Nina) Hudson1

1University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia

The potential for harnessing therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ) in the sentencing process for family violence offenders is a budding field of research. In Australia, the traditional ‘justice’ model is the dominant approach for prosecuting and sentencing family violence offences. A large body of literature identifying problems with this model has focused on the ‘front end’ of the system (e.g., policing), with less focus on the ‘back end’. Sentencing is a key component of this, and is both a public and a private communication of the highest importance. This paper is based on Hudson’s PhD research linking two interrelated knowledge gaps: the unharnessed potential of TJ is used as a lens to conduct rich and qualitative research to grow the limited understanding of family violence sentencing jurisprudence. The paper will present the research approach and highlight preliminary findings from the first two stages of empirical research, which comprises content analysis of Tasmanian and Victorian sentencing decisions for family violence offences. The analysis focuses on practice in judicial ‘court-craft’ in formulating, delivering and communicating sentencing decisions for family violence offenders, using an original ‘TJ approach’ framework devised for this specific context. This research employs TJ to shine a light on sentencing responses to family violence by articulating current judicial approaches and exploring relevant therapeutic or anti-therapeutic effects on family violence offenders from a policy perspective.


Biography:

Nina Hudson is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania. She is a qualified non-practicing Australian lawyer with a Masters in Criminology at the University of Cambridge. Prior to commencing her Ph.D., she worked in legal policy and law reform and conducted research, evaluation, and consultation in criminal law and sentencing. Her professional experience includes senior roles at the Victorian Sentencing Advisory Council, the Victorian Law Reform Commission and the Harper Review commissioned by the Victorian Government.

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