|In this paper, I develop the notion "domestic Justice" as a model of law that upholds substantive values as it struggles to stay within the bounds of formal rational law. Domestic justice is an ideal by which the court operates as well as a social policy it promotes. Domestic justice is an assertion of a victim's right to safety and a demand for an offender's criminal responsibility; it is a preventative and reactive approach to domestic violence coupled with the redistribution of social services which contrasts sharply with judicial treatment of domestic violence in the past. Moreover, domestic justice relies upon a "correctionalist" or penal-welfare model of punishment in order to carry out its goals. The conceptualization of "domestic justice" comes out of my participant-observation study of a Domestic Violence Court part in a large urban jurisdiction and an analysis of communications with courtroom personnel, multi-media court information, and the district attorney's public relations material. Domestic Violence Court is a specialized court part which operates with a specialized docket, vertical prosecution, two full-time judges, a resource coordinator, victims advocates, anti-violence counselors, and a Domestic Violence Bureau in the District Attorney's office. I argue that this court addresses the crime of domestic violence in such a way that goes beyond penal codes against assault; it reconstitutes the legal definition of the crime to include the consequences for the victim. By redistributing social services however limited or problematic (e.g., anti-violence programs, housing relocations, on-site child-care, drug and alcohol treatment, mental health evaluations, psychiatric treatment) to both victims and offenders, it attempts to prevent further incidents of domestic violence and treat domestic violence as a social problem. The creation of a Domestic Violence Court is significant as it represents a new strategy to deal with domestic violence which has taken domestic violence cases out of the jurisdiction of lower criminal courts with mixed dockets and put them into a specialized court part . As a model of law and social policy, "domestic justice" also speaks to and contrasts with debated trends about punitive crime control and actuarial penal practices. And finally, I contend that it is only when we turn to a constitutive theory of law (Engel, McCann, Merry, Sarat & Silbey, Silverstein) supplemented with the notion of "policy feedback" (Skocpol) that we begin to grasp this transition in law and how domestic justice takes the form that it does and the particular policy it produces.
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