Thanks to the efforts of activists concerned that the problem of “battered women” was being ignored -- and treated as a private, family matter rather than a broader social problem -- since the 1980s interpersonal/domestic violence has been treated as a criminal act enforced by the institutions of American criminal justice. But too seldom have we asked if this approach has actually worked. In her powerful and provocative new book, Decriminalizing Domestic Violence: A Balanced Policy Approach to Intimate Partner Violence
(University of California Press, 2018), Leigh Goodmark
asks us to evaluate the effects of criminalizing domestic violence and to consider what might be gained by thinking about interpersonal violence as a problem of economics, public health, community, and human rights.
Stephen Pimpare is Senior Lecturer in the Politics & Society Program and Faculty Fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. He is the author of
The New Victorians (New Press, 2004),
A Peoples History of Poverty in America (New Press, 2008), winner of the Michael Harrington Award, and
Ghettos, Tramps and Welfare Queens: Down and Out on the Silver Screen (Oxford, 2017).