Dhaka, Bangladesh
Therapeutic justice

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Therapeutic justice

An old man suffering from dementia, who had been handed a five-year prison sentence for killing his wife, avoided jail time Monday after the High Court amended the original sentence giving him a three-year prison term suspended for three years. Instead of commuting the sentence, the court based its ruling on "therapeutic jurisprudence" focusing on the fundamental resolution of the problem rather than incarceration. In its ruling, the High Court said, "Allowing the defendant to continue to receive treatment is in accordance with the Constitution declaring that all citizens shall be assured of human dignity." The decision drew attention because it was the first case in Korea in which therapeutic justice principles have been applied to offenders diagnosed with mental illnesses. Therapeutic jurisprudence is a concept focusing on treatment devised by David Wexler, a law professor from the University of Arizona, as an alternative to the blanket incarceration-centered criminal justice system. The lower court sentenced the old man, 68, to five years in jail for killing his wife in 2018. At the time of his crime, he was already suffering from dementia and this was considered in the court's determination of punishment. His condition worsened while in prison and a court released him on bail last September so that he could receive treatment in hospital. Given the dire need to prevent recidivism by removing the roots of pathological behavior in some crimes, it's necessary to consider adopting therapeutic jurisprudence more broadly. But there are some points to make. As the court is supposed to wholly decide what to do with offenders being subject to therapeutic jurisprudence, controversy could arise over the abuse of its judicial power. This requires the court to be more specific in determining the scope of offenses governed by therapeutic jurisprudence. — The Korea Times

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