Colluding with carceral white women

What about crime and punishment? What do we do? What about Restorative Justice? Julie Bindel looks at the details:

Restorative justice (RJ) is described as an alternative to prison; it is a non-punitive response to criminal behaviour. The idea is to bring together the person who inflicted the harm (the “responsible person”, in RJ terminology) and the victim, often in the presence of community representatives. The perpetrator is supposed to accept responsibility for the harm inflicted and reach an agreement with the victim about how to make amends.

I think one problem leaps off the page at this juncture: what if the victim doesn’t want to be brought together with the responsible person? Like, suppose the crime was violent and traumatic, and the victim never wants to lay eyes on the perp ever again? This is one reason rape is hard to prosecute, I think: prosecution generally requires laying eyes on the perp again.

De Blasio’s reforms were welcomed by prison reform campaigners, as well as pretty much every liberal in the State. Alissa Ackerman, a sex crimes policy researcher at California State University and one of the few facilitators of restorative justice sessions for rape victims, has said that RJ, “allows survivors to have their pain heard and stories acknowledged, and is an opportunity for the person who caused the harm to be accountable for their actions”.

There’s that word again – “stories.” It’s not a story; it’s not a narrative. It’s not a talk thing. Rape is the opposite of a story.

I spoke to one proponent of RJ, who asked not to be named “in case I am seen as colluding with carceral white women”.

You know, those bitches who have the bad taste to get raped by non-white men.

It’s an issue. It’s always been an issue. It was an issue during slavery and by god it was a massive issue once Reconstruction was killed. Gone With the Wind contains one of those racist post-Reconstruction rape—>KKK stories, which poisoned the minds of generations. Think the Scottsboro Boys, think Emmett Till. But. It doesn’t follow that rape victims, even white ones, are obliged to meet with their rapists for a chat and then let it go.

I spoke to one proponent of RJ, who asked not to be named “in case I am seen as colluding with carceral white women”. White himself, he is a newly trained lawyer in Washington DC, specialising in “replacing the racist system with a true healing process for both parties”. “Anti-rape feminists are probably responsible for more black men being incarcerated than anyone else in modern-day America”, he says. “Locking up African Americans is a product of slavery.” Ben went on to suggest “community resolution” and “non-violent strategies” to address sexual assault.

Pesky anti-rape feminists – why can’t they be like those cool pro-rape feminists? Easy for Ben to suggest “community resolution” when he’s highly unlikely to be a rape victim.

Sarah, whose name I’ve changed, runs a support service for victims of male violence in NYC and is “appalled” that RJ is becoming a substitute for criminal justice sanctions. “What we are seeing is what we have seen forever”, she tells me, “which is the under-policing and under-protection for women, including women of colour. But some BLM activists are claiming that feminists calling for CJS sanctions for rape and domestic abuse is flat-out racist, because black men are overrepresented in the prison population.” As a result, she told me that “black and brown women, indigenous women … are the ones who are bearing the consequences of us not holding men accountable for their violence. They are the ones who are being murdered and raped and their abusers are walking free.”

The problem is that punishment isn’t really a productive or satisfactory response. It’s basically vengeance, which is an obvious dead end. But doing nothing (and just having a chat is doing nothing) is even worse than non-productive. I don’t know of any solution to this stalemate, but I sure as hell think telling women to just move on is not it.

According to the ideals of RJ, after a crime is committed the offender and the victim should meet face-to-face. The victim is not to blame or judge the perpetrator, but rather describe the impact of the offence, in order to “heal” and become “empowered”. RJ sees victim and perpetrator as equal, both in need of support and understanding.

If they were equal he wouldn’t have been able to rape her.

RJ is considered a suitable remedy for domestic violence, childhood sexual abuse and sex trafficking, among other violent crimes predominantly committed by men. Most of these crimes are committed against women by men known to them: male family members, partners and colleagues. “The perpetrators have worked very hard, often for years, to condition the person they are abusing to not disclose, to minimise, to protect his emotions: to protect his character publicly”, says Sarah. “They’ve been using manipulative tactics to inspire self-doubt, blame and fear, in the person they are abusing.”

And victims of this kind of abuse may feel coerced by RJ practices, which are conducted, as Sarah said, “without any understanding of the dynamics of power and control, the impact of a trauma-coerced bond, and also the amount of time and commitment that it actually takes to elicit genuine behaviour change in abusers”.

It doesn’t sound at all restorative, does it.

Read the whole thing.

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