Why We Must Embrace Therapeutic Jurisprudence in the Criminal Justice System

Guest Speakers: Heather Ellis Cucolo & Michael L. Perlin

This webinar explores therapeutic jurisprudence, an approach to law that aims to positively impact the psychological well-being of the accused person. The case for therapeutic jurisprudence is particularly strong when we consider questions about how society treats individuals with severe mental illness diagnoses and intellectual disabilities.

How does society “make the punishment fit the crime” when the circumstances are complicated and what available approaches might be better?

The presenters both spent years as public defenders and mental health advocates before they became law professors, representing individuals in the criminal justice system and with mental disabilities (often, both) at every court level from police court to the US Supreme Court. They have collaborated on multiple books and articles that consider a wide range of related issues – sex offender law, the death penalty, civil commitment, quality of counsel, defendants with autism, defendants with traumatic brain injury, and more — from the perspective of therapeutic jurisprudence, and seek to offer alternatives to our current broken and corrupt systems. This webinar conversation focuses on these questions and offer ideas and resources for the way forward.

Guest Speakers

Heather Ellis Cucolo
Director, Online Mental Disability Law Program, New York Law School

Heather Ellis Cucolo is an adjunct professor at New York Law School and the current director of New York Law School’s Online Mental Disability Law Program. She has been recognized as one of the premiere experts in sexual violent predator law and has counseled attorneys, judges and clinicians on law and procedure in civil commitment proceedings and issues involving persons suffering from a mental disability or illness within the criminal justice system. Heather has published numerous articles and books in the areas of mental disability law, criminal law, and sex offender law.

Michael L. Perlin
Professor Emeritus, New York Law School

Michael L. Perlin is an American lawyer and professor emeritus at the New York Law School. He is an internationally recognized expert on “mental disability law” and how the legal system deals with individuals with mental disorders or intellectual disability. He has authored over 30 books and over 300 scholarly articles on the subject. His treatise, Mental Disability Law: Civil and Criminal (3d ed.) (Lexis Law Publishing) (three volumes) (2016) (updated semi-annually), co-authored with Prof. Cucolo, is universally seen as the standard in this area of law and policy.

Comments 4

  1. Looking forward to presentation
    This is a topic very important to our program helping transition IDD adults with forensic issues back to community living….

    1. Thank you for this! Obviously, I agree. I met with the presenters yesterday and it should be very informative. See you there!


  2. Thank you, I work in the forensic field with individuals who are court mandated to attend treatment. I am looking forward to your insights and findings.


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