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Justifying Justice: Therapeutic Law and the Victimization Defense Strategy

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Saundra D Westervelt, Associate Professor (Creator)
Institution
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: As cultural sociologists have long held, systems of collective meaning invariably take on concrete institutionalized form. In as much as a therapeutic code of moral understanding has become a dominant impulse in American culture, we would expect to find evidence of this cultural sensibility in society‘s major institutional structures, including the criminal justice system. In this article, we consider the impact of the therapeutic ethos on criminal adjudication through an examination of the =victimization defense strategy‘—an increasingly popular legal argument that explains criminal action through a focus on past experiences of social victimization. We find that the emergence and application of this legal strategy relies heavily on the therapeutic ethos, a development that both reaffirms the validity of the therapeutic culture and potentially transforms the very essence of the adjudicative process.

Additional Information

Publication
Sociological Forum 15: 617-646
Language: English
Date: 2000
Keywords
abuse excuse, criminal defense law, therapeutic culture, therapeutic ethos, victimization defense strategy