Can Restorative Justice Work in Cases of Domestic Violence?

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[Editor's Note: Have you ever heard of restorative justice? It's an alternative to the traditional crime and punishment model, and The New York Times Magazine ran a cover story about how restorative justice was used in the case of a college student who killed his girlfriend. Instead of incarceration, the perpetrator goes through mediation with the victim, and they make amends and forgive. But Jill at Feministe asks if this can really work when the victim is... dead? --Grace]

Restorative justice is a good and powerful tool — often much better, in my opinion, then the mainstream American criminal system. That said, it’s a tool, and it’s a tool that’s being used in a racist, sexist culture. Which is why I cringe a little bit when I see it used in cases like the one illustrated by the Times, which is a domestic violence murder. Don’t get me wrong, the story is extraordinary, and I support the Grosmaires going where their consciences guide them. I worry, though, because unlike in crimes like stealing someone’s bike or selling drugs, victims of domestic violence (and sexual assault) are often encouraged to forgive their abusers, especially if the abuser is a “good guy.”

Judge's Gavel, Image Credit: Shutterstock

Read more from Restorative justice and domestic violence at Feministe