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Article

Elise Sargeant, Julie Barkworth, and Natasha S. Madon

Fairness and equity are key concerns in modern liberal democracies. In step with this general trend, academics and practitioners have long been concerned with the fairness of procedures utilized by the criminal justice system. Definitions vary, but procedural justice is loosely defined as fair treatment and fair decision-making by authorities. In the criminal justice system, the procedural justice of authorities such as police officers, judicial officers, and correctional officers is evaluated by members of the public. Procedural justice in the criminal justice system is viewed as an end in and of itself, but it is also an opportunity to yield various outcomes including legitimacy, public compliance with the law, cooperation with criminal justice officials, and satisfaction with criminal justice proceedings and outcomes.

Article

William R. Wood, Masahiro Suzuki, and Hennessey Hayes

Restorative justice is an innovative justice response to crime and offending that takes many forms such as victim-offender meetings, family group conferencing and youth justice conferencing, and sentencing or peacemaking circles. While restorative practices are used in a wide variety of contexts such as schools and workplaces to respond to and resolve conflict, restorative justice practices are predominantly used within criminal and youth justice. Key goals of restorative justice include (a) meeting victim needs of participation in justice processes and redress for harms caused to them, (b) asking wrongdoers to be accountable and actively responsible for making amends to victims and other they have harmed, and (c) involving primary and community stakeholders in restorative practices that repair harms to victims, promote offender reintegration, and enhance community safety and well-being. Existing research shows that restorative justice consistently meets most of these goals better than conventional court practices. However, restorative justice also appears to work better in some cases than in others, and also faces several limitations and challenges within its use in criminal justice systems. Limitations include dependence of restorative justice on state justice apparatuses for definitions of harm, and lack of fact-finding mechanisms that render most uses of restorative justice as diversionary or postadjudicative responses to offending. Challenges include lack of agreement on the aims and goals of restorative justice theoretically and in practice, administrative dilution and co-option of restorative aims and goals within increased institutionalization in criminal justice agencies, and uncertainty about the ability of restorative justice to redress harms situated within social-structural forms of violence and oppression such as gendered violence and systemic racism.

Article

In the contemporary era of “tough on crime” policies and the globalized drug war, the number of women in the criminal justice system has increased across several countries. Women’s involvement in the system is not limited to imprisonment, however, and many criminalized women (those involved in the justice system with the assigned status of defendants, offenders, etc.) participate in community-based programs after serving sentences in prisons or jails or as an alternative to incarceration. Criminalized women encounter multiple interlocking forms of oppression based on sexuality, race and ethnicity, class, disability, immigration status, punishment status, and (importantly) gender. Gendered ideas and norms shape the way women are treated not only by the carceral state but also by community-based, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). NGOs have played an increasingly prominent role in the provision of social services since the 1970s. Organizations working with criminalized people in more affluent, English-speaking nations commonly address job readiness, psychological and substance issues, parenting, sexuality, romantic relationships, and spirituality, among other important areas. Some NGOs work with criminalized people as a condition of their criminal sentences. Criminalized women’s self-reported needs are great, yet resources are often scarce, inadequate, and unwelcoming, particularly for women of color. Responding to a dearth of services available to women, feminists formed NGOs focused on this population beginning in the 1970s; women are also served at NGOs that work with men. “Reducing offending” and “empowerment” are frequently stated goals at NGOs that work with women, but these goals can be interpreted widely depending on the views of NGO leadership and staff about gender. NGOs can approach women’s gender in a variety of ways. For instance, they can resist or affirm the dominant views used by the carceral state that criminalize and stigmatize women. Their approaches matter because of the implications for equality of opportunities that follow. Two major philosophies can motivate the outreach that NGOs do with criminalized women. Gender sameness disregards gender differences and stresses that it is necessary to treat women “like men” to reverse the disadvantages and marginalization that women encounter. Gender difference emphasizes the importance of treating men or women based on their purportedly unique characteristics and social experiences. Much critical feminist research on NGOs that work with criminalized women has studied programs formed around ideas of gender difference. Critical researchers have examined gender in organizational work with women outside of prisons, in community-based prisons run by NGOs, and in more traditional prisons. Researchers have examined practices at programs, the philosophies underpinning them, and their implications. This body of work shows that NGOs can perpetuate gendered exclusions and may expand the power of the carceral state. In their prescriptions for responding to the status quo, critical researchers make arguments along a spectrum from advocating more moderate social change, such as by creating more effective programs, to more radical social change, such as by ending community-based programs that perpetuate carceral control.

Article

In the last 50 years, a wide body of research on domestic and family violence (DFV) has emerged, much of which focuses on the victim-survivor experience with the criminal justice system. DFV is an area of rapid law reform, most notably in Western nations such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, as legislative bodies attempt to align policies with emerging knowledge and best-practice principles. Policy and law reform, however, have seen a tension between limiting and enhancing victim autonomy in the criminal justice system process. For the most part, policies have focused on the former, reflecting the understanding that DFV is a crime against the state, thus rendering a victim’s ability to choose how they wish to seek protection a secondary priority. For some women, a mandatory criminal justice system intervention may be a useful tool in seeking protection and addresses past limitations of legal responses to DFV, wherein the violence committed by men against women was largely ignored. However, for many other women, engagement in the criminal or civil justice systems may both enhance risks to safety as well as further engrain disadvantage. While DFV policies have been well intended and reflective of the growing shift toward recognizing DFV as a significant public health issue, the same policies have largely ignored the voices of marginalized women and the ways in which “choice” may manifest differently for different women. There are often unintended consequences of DFV reforms relating to justice responses, which disproportionately affect some victims. Thus, a more nuanced approach in police and court responses to DFV is important to minimize adverse effects on victim-survivor voice and help-seeking.