I recently read The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities, an anthology edited by Ching-In Chen, Jai Dulani, & Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. It wasn’t quite what I expected. Its focus was on the idea of transformative justice (also called restorative justice), that is, using systems outside the legal apparatus and focusing on changing behavior rather than on punishment. I have some thoughts on that.
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The idea behind transformative justice is appealing: involve the community, center the victim, and find ways for the offender to make amends. As with the legal system, there can be a significant gap between the theory and what human beings actually do.
Some of the book’s contributors argue that the whole prison system should be abolished. I don’t go that far. But there are understandable reasons why a victim may not want to involve police or courts, particularly if they’re from a marginalized community. If your partner is getting loud and scary during an argument, you want them to stop, but you might not want them confronted by armed police, especially if your partner is a person of color. If your partner is transgender, going to jail would be more dangerous for them than for someone cisgender.
Even if it’s a situation where I personally would make that 911 call, some people won’t: because of their relationship with the perpetrator, because they’re afraid of being seen as disloyal to the community, or because they expect (often rightly) that the legal system won’t care. So of course it’s good to have other alternatives.
The question becomes: how effective are the alternatives? We don’t like to admit it, but activist communities have all the same problems as the rest of society. We have harassment, sexual assault, and domestic violence — and we also have denial, victim-blaming, and the human tendency to side with whichever person we’re closer to, rather than looking solely at behavior.
One writer mentioned that in the Jim Crow era, a group of well-respected men in the community would try to intervene with men who were known to be domestic abusers. In a contemporary example, a writer describes being part of a group intervention after a woman reported a sexual assault by one of the men in the community. That one mostly sounds like a lot of exhausting meetings, and the writer still felt months later that the perpetrator wasn’t “getting it.”
Has anyone here had experiences with transformative/restorative justice? I’m interested to hear more about the pros & cons.
On to Top Comments!
From A Siegel:
As AfricaLived makes clear with a comment to Mark Sumner's extremely well framed post "Trump is under suspicion of being an agent of Russia, but he is definitely Russia's agent,” treason denial aligns with climate science denial in more ways than one.
Reading the comment is self-explanatory as to why I am nominating this one. :) [Note from Tara: comment is from bethann, in Kelly Macias’s diary “Birth control IS health care.”]
From purple cones:
Candidate for Top Comments. [Note from Tara: this is comment from Gareth.]
From Lost and Found:
In response to a front-page post about the shutdown, irishgurl kicks off a rant in support of federal workers by telling a decades-old story about her father and a lost envelope.
From Marko the Werelynx:
Just giving a shoutout to user jqjacobs for their comment in this diary.
It brought me a link to an article I'd missed and brought up a lot of anger over how much harm has been inflicted on my old home state of Wisconsin. There have been problematic elections in Wisconsin for a number of years. While other parts of the comment section were teetering on the edge of RoxSux canyon, this comment helped bring my focus back to the real and present evil of vote suppression and made me grateful that the Dems have taken back the House and are making election law one of their priorities.
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