Courthouse Dogs - justice with compassion

Courthouse Dogs - justice with compassion 05 November 2013

2013 Successful Innovation Idea voting round winner

The investigation and prosecution of crimes is an emotionally charged process. An illegal act can cause feelings of loss, emotional trauma, family break-ups and physical injury. The search for the truth may involve interrogations, endless court proceedings, the anxiety of recounting a stressful event in a courtroom full of strangers, and outcomes of incarceration or an empty sense of vindication.

Scientific research shows that many humans experience a sense of well-being in the close presence of a calm dog. Expertly trained assistance dogs, handled by professionals associated with the legal system can provide emotional support to people during legal proceedings and thereby make this process more humane.

These courthouse facility dogs should be graduates from assistance dog organisations that are accredited members of Assistance Dogs International to ensure that they do not create a public danger and are stable, well-behaved and unobtrusive in public.

The inclusion of these dogs in the legal system can make these proceedings more cost efficient, reduce the number of trials, assist defendants in their recovery in treatment courts and leave people with a more positive association with the practice of criminal law. Most importantly the dog’s calming presence promotes justice with compassion.

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