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Family-based justice in the sentencing of domestic violence.

Dinovitzer, Ronit
June 4, 2015

Source: (2007) British Journal of Criminology. 47:655-670.

While historical research has noted the importance of the ‘family’ in criminal justice, recent empirical
work has tended to neglect the emphasis placed on the family in the criminal process. Drawing
on Daly’s work on familial justice, this paper investigates the role of the family in the sentencing of
offenders in a specialized domestic violence court. We examine both the likelihood of incarceration
and the determinants of sentence length, and find that conceptions of the family continue to have
an important influence on these criminal process outcomes. In cases in which the victim has suffered
serious injuries, offenders in intact relationships are more likely to be sentenced to jail, yet, at
the same time, when incarcerated, these offenders receive shorter sentences. Thus, even as researchers
are documenting broader shifts away from the promotion of substantive values through the
criminal process, the current study suggests the continued relevance of ‘family-based justice’ in the
sanctioning of offenders, so that moral imperatives continue to intersect with the actuarial logic of
modern penal practices. (author’s abstract)


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