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To COMMIT Is Just the Beginning: Applying Therapeutic Jurisprudence to Reform Parole in Australia


Max Henshaw, Lorana Bartels and Anthony Hopkins

Recidivism represents the failure of the criminal justice system to adequately respond to cycles of crime and dysfunction. With increasing reoffending rates, Australia is demonstrably failing to reduce recidivism and facilitate desistance from crime. Therapeutic jurisprudence (‘TJ’) seeks to understand how law and legal process operate therapeutically. This article considers TJ insights and principles to examine the extent to which Australian parole laws and processes promote desistance. We argue that applying a TJ analysis provides a valuable perspective to understanding how these laws can operate to break the cycle of recidivism in Australia. We then examine the Compliance Management or Incarceration in the Territory (‘COMMIT’) program recently implemented in the Northern Territory, drawing on legislative and policy frameworks and comments from key stakeholders. We find that COMMIT appears to be a promising, TJ-informed, reform, which may represent a shift towards a more therapeutic, and effective, approach to parole compliance.

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(2019) 42(4) UNSWLJ 1411: