Homeless people are overrepresented in the criminal justice system due to their offences being directly related to their experience of poverty.
Therapeutic Jurisprudence primarily concerns itself with the underlying issues causing this intersection between homeless people and the law. It attempts to find solutions in order to address these greater social barriers.
In Australia the NSW Drug Court and the Magistrates Early Referral into Treatment are some examples of Therapeutic Jurisprudence being applied into action. The Victorian Court systems, in particular, have implemented the “Special Circumstance List”. This program diverts homeless people with criminal sanctions back to social services in order to address their social and legal needs. Under this project it was reported that ‘homeless participants who had attended the Special Circumstances List had a positive experience with the court system as it allowed them to tell their story to the magistrate directly.
Creative Sparks Pty Ltd, Homeless Persons Court Diversion Program Pilot Case Studies (2007).
Diverting People Facing Homelessness Out of the Justice System https://justiceconnect.org.au/campaigns/diverting-people-facing-homelessness-out-of-the-justice-system/
Homelessness and Contact with the Criminal Justice System: Insights from Specialist Lawyers and Allied Professionals in Australia https://www.crimejusticejournal.com/article/view/1742
Justice Connect. Homeless Law. https://justiceconnect.org.au/our-services/homeless-law/
Midgely B, 'Improving the Administration of Justice for Homeless People in the Court Process' Report of the Homeless Persons' (Court Project, Public Interest Legal Clearing House (Vic) Inc., 2004).
Popovic J, 'Meaningful v Meaningless Sentences: Sentencing the Unsentenceable' Paper presented to the 'Sentencing: Principles, Perspectives and Possibilities' conference, Canberra, 10-12 February 2006. 15(4) (May 2006) Journal of Judicial Administration 190-205
Walsh T, 'The Queensland Special Circumstances Court' (2007) 16 Journal of Judicial Administration 223.
Walsh T, 'Defendant's and Criminal Justice Professionals' Views on the Brisbane Special Circumstances Court' (2011) 21 Journal of Judicial Administration 993.