Hacia un proceso penal más reparador y socializador: avances desde la Justicia Terapéutica

Esther Pillado González & Tomás Farto Piay



Towards a more restorative and socializing criminal process: Advances from therapeutic Justice



Book Review by Irene Salas-Menotti (irene.salasm @ konradlorenz.edu.co)

A key field of therapeutic jurisprudence ('TJ') [1] focuses on the positive and negative effects that criminal proceedings and laws have on the psychological and social wellbeing of individuals involved in the criminal justice system. It does not centre its principles on the victims or the perpetrators exclusively, but rather understands the system as a whole, within which judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, amongst others, play a significant role in conveying therapeutic effects within proceedings.

The book introduces TJ to investigators and professionals who work with individuals dealing with criminal proceedings, either as a victim or perpetrator, and portrays a different approach to criminal justice, which can offer more humane responses.

To do so, the book begins with three introductory chapters. These chapters introduce the concept of TJ; its origins in the United States; the scholarly work of founding fathers, Professors Wexler and Winick; the link between TJ and problem-solving courts and; the differentiation between TJ and restorative justice. The introductory chapters also specify the scope of TJ, its fields of application in law, and the positive effects of it implementation for those convicted of a crime and for society. The authors highlight the importance of integrating other social and behavioural sciences into the application of criminal justice through a multidisciplinary and holistic approach, such as: psychology, psychiatry, sociology, education and social work.

It is clear that the book is intended for professionals of different disciplines and it emphasises the importance of training legal operators to create new tools to benefit those involved in the criminal process. The introductory chapters are clear and concise, and they explain the main precepts of TJ in an approachable, organized and succinct manner; this is particularly advantageous for individuals who are beginning their journey in TJ.

The subsequent chapters are then geared towards the different legal stakeholders typically involved in the criminal process and intervention programs, including victims and/or perpetrators.  Within these later chapters, each author makes a patent effort to explain the intricacies of the Spanish legal framework and stakeholders, which allows people from other countries to extrapolate the main elements to their specific contexts. Here the key tenets of TJ are analysed; aspects such as misdemeanour case dismissal and compliance, mediation and the concept of the so-called 'attenuated' provisional prison in Spanish Law are evaluated as indicators of TJ. Moreover, the role that Judges play in determining sentences and their suspension in cases where mediation was used, are discussed. The authors also discuss the importance of TJ in forensic evaluation of gender violence and sexual violence, especially when the victims are under-aged, as well as the impact of a TJ approach with perpetrators of domestic violence and individuals convicted of sexually violent crimes. These chapters are of high importance because they demonstrate the effects that TJ has on victims and perpetrators, and the authors argue for a more humane process for parties to avoid re-victimization and recidivism.

The book´s final chapter is a thoughtful reflection of the next steps for advancing TJ in Spain and Latin America, which emphasises the importance of integrating the language of the social sciences into legal matters. The authors make the case for the use of Amicus Justitia briefs, as a strategy to advance the adoption of TJ elements in case law and intervention programs.

Despite this being a collective edition, readers will perceive the book as a coherent work, in which procedural figures and intervention programs that respond to the TJ paradigm are analysed in an orderly manner. Overall, this book provides readers with a comprehensive overview of TJ and its applications, and it is highly recommended for individuals who work within the legal system or anyone interested in doing research into alternative justice measures to incarceration and the humanisation of the criminal justice system.

[1] Sometimes referred to as 'therapeutic justice'.