Public Policy Center, University of Nebraska


Date of this Version

October 1999


Published in Behavioral Sciences and the Law 17 (1999), pp. 553-554. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Used by permission.


Therapeutic Jurisprudence (TJ), a concept first conceived by law professors David Wexler (University of Puerto Rico and University of Arizona) and Bruce Winick (University of Miami) only a little more than a decade ago, has emerged as the leading conceptual perspective in the mental health law field. Indeed, a LEXIS search reveals well over 150 articles on, or citing to, therapeutic jurisprudence in American law review publications in the past decade (terms used were “therapeutic w/5 jurisprudence w/25 Wexler or Winick”).

Although initially a notion that provided an alternative to the traditional “rights” approach to thinking about mental health law problems in the US, TJ has evolved beyond just a mental health conception and expanded way beyond the borders of the USA. For example, under Wexler’s guidance, the University of Puerto Rico School of Law has recently created an International Network on Therapeutic Jurisprudence, and the school’s law review, Revista Juridica Universidad de Puerto Rico, has been regularly publishing TJ articles for the past several years. In July 1998, the University of Southampton and the Behavioral Science and Law Network sponsored the first International Conference on Therapeutic Jurisprudence in Winchester, England, a conference coordinated by one of us (DC) with considerable assistance from Wexler and Winick. Moreover, TJ was a major theme at the international conference on psychology and law held in Dublin in July 1999, and another international TJ conference is scheduled for Cincinnati, Ohio, in 2001.

It should not have surprised us, then, to find that our solicitation of manuscripts for this special issue yielded more publishable manuscripts that could be published in a single issue of Behavioral Sciences & the Law. Rather than reject publishable manuscripts, we decided to publish some in this special issue and publish the rest next year as part of a second special on Therapeutic Jurisprudence. Taken together, the articles in the two issues reflect the kinds of rich and varied work that is being done under the TJ umbrella.

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