Society expects justice from courts, not therapy

Society expects justice from courts, not therapy, by Jennifer Oriel.

When law and order fails, ­society assumes the character of anarchy. It is ugly, tribal and lawless. In Victoria, the Apex gang has unleashed anarchy in brazen street fights, numerous robberies, assaults and rape. …

Speaking to Vice News, Victoria Legal Aid’s executive ­director of criminal law services, Helen Fatouros, complained that: “Visa cancellation should not be about punishment.” Last year, Flemington Community Legal Centre executive officer Anthony Kelly said the community should take responsibility for Apex gang violence and described the idea of targeting gang members for ­deportation as ­“racist”.

Left activists believe the Sudanese origin of some Apex gang members makes them deserving of special consideration. Conservatives view it as an opportunity to deport criminal thugs back to their country of origin.

One gains the impression that many TJ [therapeutic jurisprudence] advocates are engaged in a kind of virtue-signalling where the efficacy of courts is measured not by the faithful application of legislation and just punishment for crime but the degree to which criminals emote and judges manage their emotions. In a 2011 paper, Hoffman describes a therapeutic court in a scene evocative of the film Idiocracy. A judge roams around the court mic in hand “like a talk-show host”, prompting an offender renamed a “client” to confess his crime and emote about it before coaching him to ­denounce the past. They celebrate his rebirth with courtroom ­applause, a certificate and pen. …

The systemic failure of our legal system to protect innocent citizens from violent criminals is inseparable from the quiet revolution transforming court practice from black letter law to therapy culture. The judiciary is quick to remind us that the accused have rights. That is obviously true, but they don’t include the right to harm others.

When offenders commit violence on the scale we have seen in Melbourne recently — when a perpetrator on bail allegedly runs over and kills a three-month-old baby sleeping in his pram, when youths assault an elderly man ­returning home from his wife’s grave — that is when the scales of justice tip to protect innocents. In such cases, therapy is no substitute for justice. We expect justice in our court rooms. Leave therapy to the therapists.