Justice from the victim's perspective

Author(s)Herman, Judith Lewis
Title Justice from the victim's perspective
Source Violence Against Women May 2005, vol. 11, no. 5, pp 571-602
Date 2005
Document type Journal article
Coverage USA
Summary This article discusses basic questions of justice from the perspective of sexual assault and domestic violence victims. It is suggested that a victim's vision of justice is not represented at all in the conventional legal system. The aim of the study was to understand what it would mean for victims if they had an active role as protagonists in the criminal justice system. The study was based on in-depth interviews with 22 participants, who were victims or witnesses of sexual assault or domestic violence. Some of the participants had sought justice through the legal system and some sought to resolve matters informally but only a small minority achieved what they considered a satisfactory outcome. One key finding was that the group endorsed only one aim of criminal justice: incapacitation. Their priority was safety and they preferred to prevent offenders from committing future crimes rather than punish them from those already committed. It was also found that their vision of justice combined retributive and restorative elements. In conclusion the author suggests that adapting restorative justice principles to crimes of sexual and domestic violence needs public support and recommends pre-existing programs that could be used as models.
Keywords Justice; restorative justice; retributive
Topic Restorative justice