Therapeutic jurisprudence examines the impact on wellbeing of a broad range of legal actors. In the criminal process, it ranges from the actions of police in investigating and prosecuting crime to the actions of corrections officers in relation to those who are imprisoned for criminal conduct, subject to parole or under supervision in the community.

From the 1990s onwards, corrections has been moving from a risk management approach based on a then widespread understanding that 'nothing works' in promoting offender rehabilitation to one that promotes offender rehabilitation while at the same time managing risk of offending. This move is based on research finding that certain rehabilitation programs ' particularly cognitive behavioural programs ' used for the right offenders in the appropriate context are effective in promoting decreased offender recidivism.

At the same time, more comprehensive models of offender rehabilitation are emerging such as the 'good lives' model which sees an essential aspect of rehabilitation as the promotion of a good life for individual offenders based on their motivations and needs through appropriate internal and external supports.

Parallels have also emerged between the correctional literature and that of therapeutic jurisprudence, particularly in the areas of motivation to change behaviour and the significance of concepts such as self-determination, voice, validation and respect.

Australian work in this area has been pioneering as can be seen in the references in the resources section. It has suggested how corrections officers can promote offender motivation to change and  to engage in rehabilitation programs as well as how they can support offenders through the process. Research has also described an approach to correctional work that integrates therapeutic jurisprudence in increasing offenders responsivity to rehabilitation through the utilisation of good lives theory.

These developments are relevant to the work of judicial officers, lawyers and other legal system professionals it can, through a process of cross-fertilisation, contribute to the development of their work. Work in the application of therapeutic jurisprudence to corrections has already been discussed in the Australasian literature on therapeutic judging and problem-solving court programs.


Birgden A and Vincent F, 'Maximising Therapeutic Effects in Treating Sexual Offenders in an Australian Correctional System' (2000) 18 Behavioral Sciences & the Law 479.

Birgden A, 'Therapeutic Jurisprudence and 'Good Lives': A Rehabilitation Framework for Corrections' (2002) 37 Australian Psychologist 180.

Birgden A, 'Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Responsivity: Finding the Will and the Way in Offender Rehabilitation' (2004) 10 Psychology, Crime and Law 283.

Birgden A, 'Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Sex Offenders: A Psycho-Legal Approach to Protection' (2004) 16 Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment 351.

Birgden A, 'Therapeutic jurisprudence: The role of forensic psychology' in R. Sarre & J. Tomaino (eds.), Considering Crime and Justice: Realities and Responses. (Crawford House Publishing, 2004),166.

Birgden A, 'Applying Therapeutic Jurisprudence Principles in Sentencing: Courts, Corrections and Beyond' Paper presented at the 'Sentencing: Principles, Perspectives and Possibilities' conference, Canberra, 10-12 February 2006.

Birgden A, 'Serious Sex Offenders Monitoring Act 2005 (Vic): A Therapeutic Jurisprudence Analysis' (2007) Psychiatry, Psychology and Law 78.

Birgden A, 'A Compulsory Drug Treatment Program for Offenders in Australia: Therapeutic Jurisprudence Implications' (2008) 30 Thomas Jefferson Law Review 367.

Birgden A and Ward T, 'Jurisprudential Considerations: Pragmatic Psychology Through a Therapeutic Jurisprudence Lens: Psycholegal Soft Spots in the Criminal Justice System' (2003) 9 Psychology, Public Policy & the Law 334.

Birgden A, ‘Maximising Desistance: Adding Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Human Rights to the Mix’ (2015) 42(1) Criminal Justice and Behavior January 19.

Birgden A and Grant L, ‘Establishing a compulsory drug treatment prison: Therapeutic policy, principles, and practices in addressing offender rights and rehabilitation’ (2010) 33(5) International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 341.

Birgden A and Perlin ML, ‘“Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison": A human rights perspective on therapeutic jurisprudence and the role of forensic psychologists in correctional settings’ (2009) 14(4) Aggression and Violent Behavior 256.

McWilliam N, Neilssen O, Moore J, ‘Sorting it out: A community mediation training program at a therapeutic prison’ (2015) 37(1) Sydney Law Review 69.