What Is Relational Justice?

38 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2019 Last revised: 11 Jun 2019

Date Written: February 20, 2019


The relational harms of crimes of violence should be met with relational remedies; this is the aim of relational justice. Sexual and other forms of violence do grave harm to personal relations and relational capacities. Wrongdoers may, and should, be blamed for acts of disregard for the basic relational good of others. The final aim of relational justice is the return of those hurt by violence to full belonging in community, and if possible, the return of perpetrators as well. This will alter predominant views of punishment for serious crimes. Adopting a relational justice perspective should change how guilty pleas are taken and sentencing hearings are structured. Relational justice promises better recognition of sexual violence by emphasizing the relational nature of harm and wrongdoing. Relational justice also provides a new perspective on race and class discrimination in criminal justice through its emphasis on the connectedness of persons and groups in community and basic obligations to look out for the relational good of others.

Keywords: relational justice, crimes of violence, sexual violence, punishment, victim impact statements, race discrimination

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Pillsbury, Samuel H., What Is Relational Justice? (February 20, 2019). Loyola Law School, Los Angeles Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2019-09, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3338052 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3338052

Samuel H. Pillsbury (Contact Author)

Loyola Law School Los Angeles ( email )

919 Albany Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015-1211
United States
213-736-1093 (Phone)

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics