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We believe it is impossible to understand the development and the power of therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ) without acknowledging that its roots in mental disability law have continued to expand and flourish over the decades, and that there is no other substantive area of the law in which every aspect – substantive and procedural, civil and criminal, statutory and constitutional. domestic and international – has been weighed and evaluated using a TJ lens. In this chapter, we consider how those roots have shaped the last three decades of research and the implications of what has developed. We look carefully at two sub-sets of mental disability law developments: the law of sexual autonomy and the law of sexually violent predators.

We conclude that, while TJ has spread far and wide (substantially through David Wexler’s dual focus on the therapeutic design of the law (TDL) and the therapeutic application of the law (TAL)), it is still the area of mental disability law that is its heart and soul. We believe that all TJ practitioners ought to take seriously the scholarship that has developed in this specific area so as to shed light on TJ’s potential application to all other aspects of the law – substantive, procedural and structural.


Chapter 7 in The Methodology and Practice of Therapeutic Jurisprudence (Carolina Academic Press, 2019)