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Unified Family Court: Preventive, Therapeutic and Restorative Justice for America’s Families

Tow, Michael A.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2002) Juvenile and Family Justice Today . 10(4): 14-17.

Although preventative medicine has been widely studied, preventative justice has just recently emerged as a prominent research area. Preventative justice encompasses therapeutic and restorative justice. Judge Michael A. Town defines unintentional harms caused by the justice system as “jurigenic effects.” Therapeutic justice requires judges, lawyers, and other staff to treat clients and families with respect, patience, and dignity at all times. In dealing with families, each intervention should be tailored to the specific needs of that family. Whenever possible mediation, family group conferences, and early settlement conferences should be used to settle disputes in lieu of adversarial court hearings. Restorative justice involves including the community, the victims, the offenders, and their families in the justice process. Six elements of effective court structure which promote restorative and therapeutic justice are presented. These elements include comprehensive jurisdiction for all family and related matters, a family court center, consistency of judges and judicial teams working with individual families, open access to court services, availability of alternative dispute resolution, and access to community and public services. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service,


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