Trauma-Informed Courts: A Review and Integration of Justice Perspectives and Gender Responsiveness

Nicole C. McKenna, Kristy Holtfreter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


As researchers and practitioners begin to understand the complex relationship between victimization and offending, there is an increased need to address prior trauma in the court context. This includes in court processes themselves, as well as through offender supervision conditions in the form of treatment referrals. While not all offenders have been victims themselves, trauma-informed practices recognize the possibility of trauma history in the lives of court-involved individuals. Trauma-informed practices seek to address abuse and trauma and respond in a person-centered and supportive manner. When implemented in juvenile courts, there is potential for disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline. This review seeks to understand how trauma-informed processes–already in use in juvenile courts–can be incorporated into adult courts to better address offender risks and needs, with the goal of facilitating rehabilitation. In doing so, we assess the extent to which extant justice perspectives (i.e., procedural justice, therapeutic jurisprudence, and restorative justice) and principles of gender-responsiveness are compatible with trauma-informed practices in adult courts. Implications for theory, future research, and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)450-470
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021


  • Trauma-informed practices
  • abuse-to-prison pipeline
  • adult courts
  • gender-responsive treatment
  • procedural justice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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