We are reimagining the response to intimate partner violence through the lens of restorative justice.
The Center for Court Innovation is working to reimagine the response to intimate partner violence through the lens of restorative justice. Not long ago, the prospect of such a response was dismissed by many as impossible. In 2016, we co-hosted a national roundtable on the intersection of restorative justice and intimate partner violence to engage directly-impacted people, advocates, policymakers, and practitioners. A local convening in New York City followed the roundtable in the same year.
That same year, New York City’s Mayor’s Office to End Gender-Based Violence offered us the opportunity to narrow our focus. The result of that work is ‘Using Restorative Approaches to Address Intimate Partner Violence: A New York City Blueprint,’ published in 2020. It’s a guide for the city and other funders on supporting restorative practices and practitioners on the ground, creating more options and resources for restorative responses for those who are experiencing intimate partner violence.
Coming to the courthouse and participating in hearings can be confusing and intimidating for anyone but is especially so for domestic violence survivors. They may have significant concerns for their and their children’s emotional and physical safety; may be contending with the effects of recent trauma; and may have difficulty accessing the supportive resources that they need. It’s essential for court teams to proactively design and implement strategies to support survivors’ safety and well-being so they can meaningfully participate in the legal process.
This paper provides a summary of two recent reports on the use of restorative justice and other community-based practices to respond to intimate partner violence. It includes highlights and guiding principles that emerged from a national study of practitioners. It also includes recommendations on how to grow this work that were made in a blueprint for New York City. This is part of our ongoing effort to continue this conversation and push for more options outside of the criminal legal system for people impacted by intimate partner violence.
The Center for Court Innovation learned about restorative approaches to crime and conflict from Native American practitioners in whose communities peacemaking has been practiced for generations. We are deeply grateful to our many Native mentors, especially from the Navajo Nation, who taught us about kinship in this work. We are also grateful to our trainers from across the country who taught us the foundations of circle practice and who walked us through the real-life challenges of implementation.