Therapeutic Jurisprudence: A New Approach to Crime Victims

Gintautas Valickas, Ksenija Voropaj, Viktoras Justickis


The present paper analyses the application of the psychological knowledge to one of the most relevant law problems—minimization of the traumatizing impact of the legal system on the people involved in it. The specificity of participation in legal proceedings derives from two underlying characteristics of the law—the inevitability of the psychological impact on the person and the undervaluation of the person’s emotional state within the legal system as a whole. The first characteristics reflect the significance of decisions made in the system of justice, the complexity of orientation in the law environment, as well as the lack of various resources. The second characteristics reflect the traditional insensibility of the legal system and the legal actors to psychological problems of the individual. Therapeutic jurisprudence is seen as a breakthrough for a solution to these long existing problems. Therapeutic jurisprudence is an interdisciplinary approach, focusing on positive and negative consequences emerging from interactions of people and legal system. The legal system appears to have different effects on all the participants (legal officers, defendants, victims, etc.). The aim of the present article is to review the main ideas and the scope of application of therapeutic jurisprudence, focusing on crime victims, who are especially vulnerable to the traumatizing effects of the legal system. The paper presents the concept, development, and application of therapeutic jurisprudence, analyses the results obtained during the short period of the existence of this field, characterises and examines the main sources of secondary victimization encountered by crime victims during their interaction with the legal system and its representatives. Criminal victimization is recognized to have negative effects on victims’ psychological well-being per se. However, the impact of secondary victimization on victims by legal proceedings had been undervalued by scholars and practitioners for a long time. The paper presents the situation, legal status and role of crime victims in Lithuania, focusing on the approach of therapeutic jurisprudence to the solution for undesirable consequences of involvement in pre-trial and trial processes. In accordance to the principles of therapeutic jurisprudence the necessity to solve not only legal, but also psychological problems of crime victims, as well as training of law enforcement personnel to consider the psychological needs of those, who had suffered from crime, is emphasized.


therapeutic jurisprudence; psychological impact of law; crime victims

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"Societal studies" ISSN online 2029-2244 / ISSN print 2029-2236