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W.E.B. Du Bois Research Fellowship

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2006
90 pages
This study examined the implications for criminal justice policy and practice of the use of restorative-justice and native-justice methods in addressing violence against women.
As used in this report, "restorative justice" refers to a set of principles and practices that address the harm done to victims and the community by a crime, while holding the offender accountable for his/her behavior and requiring him/her to participate in activities and programs that will reform the offending behavior. Although the literature review found very little empirically based research on the use of restorative-justice strategies with domestic and family violence that involved adult victims and offenders, there were some themes expressed by both restorative-justice proponents and critics. Advocates of restorative justice believe that restorative justice principles are based in native community-oriented cultures that focus on both the harms done to victims and the community and on the reformation of offending behaviors. They praise this approach for its balance in addressing both the harms done to victims and the needs of offenders that underlie their destructive behavior. Critics of restorative justice as it is implemented in such practices as family group conferences and other nonadversarial forums include feminist and antiviolence practitioners and native workers and analysts. They note the difficulties of transplanting restorative-justice principles and practices that originated in homogeneous community-oriented native cultures to domestic violence cases that involve people conditioned by different cultures. The most consistent caution about the use of restorative justice to address domestic and sexual violence is its risk to women victims and survivors because of potential laxity in providing reliable protections for victims vulnerable to repeated violence. The study advocates more informed dialog and empirical research on particular restorative and alternative justice intervention that specifically address crimes against women. 122 references and appended supplementary material

Date Published: November 1, 2006