Lessons Unlearned: Women Offenders, the Ethics of Care, and the Promise of Restorative Justice

40 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2011

Date Written: January 1, 2006


The steep rise in female offenders since the 1960s has finally caused criminologists, lawyers, judges, and others to consider why they have not learned more about women offenders’ lives, in order to better understand and explain why they enter, and how they proceed through the criminal system. This article focuses on the reality that women’s relationality, and particularly their relationships with men in their lives, profoundly affect the behavior that lands them in the criminal justice system. This article argues that restorative justice, which is essentially grounded on an ethical understanding of crime and treats the offender as an interacting subject/agent, is a necessary avenue of response to most women offender’s crimes. The author deconstructs the assumption of treatment-based, services-based, and traditional punitive incarceration, and the contrasting prospects for restorative justice approaches on women offenders. The argument of this article, thus, is essentially an appeal about why restorative justice systems might be especially appropriate for women who approach criminal choices using an “ethics of care” rather than an “ethics of right.”

Keywords: restorative justice, female offenders, women offenders, criminal system, traditional incarceration, ethics of care, ethics of right

Suggested Citation

Failinger, Marie A., Lessons Unlearned: Women Offenders, the Ethics of Care, and the Promise of Restorative Justice (January 1, 2006). Fordham Urban Law Journal, Vol. 33, p. 487, 2006, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1929515

Marie A. Failinger (Contact Author)

Mitchell Hamline School of Law ( email )

875 Summit Ave
St. Paul, MN 55105-3076
United States

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