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Just Interests

Victims, Citizens and the Potential for Justice

Robyn Holder

Just Interests: Victims, Citizens and the Potential for Justice contributes to extended conversations about the idea of justice – who has it, who doesn’t and what it means in the everyday setting of criminal justice. It challenges the usual representation of people victimized by violence only as victims, and re-positions them as members of a political community. Departing from conventional approaches that see victims as a problem for law to contain, Robyn Holder draws on democratic principles of inclusion and deliberation to argue for the unique opportunity of criminal justice to enlist the capacity of citizens to rise to the demands of justice in their ordinary lives.
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Robyn Holder

I am fortunate to have a long list of acknowledgements to make. Without the men and women who gave so openly of their time and their views as participants in both the criminal justice process and in the research on which this book is based, it would not have been written. I am deeply grateful. None of you are in any way ordinary. The prosecutors I interviewed in Australia and the UK were very generous with their time and thoughtful reflection. Prosecution is an enormously difficult job. Thankfully it attracts great minds and committed practitioners who think deeply on the public interest.

At Griffith University, Queensland, I have had the benefit of thoughtful critique and encouragement over a sustained period from Professors Kathleen Daly and Susanne Karstedt. I could not ask for better guides. Professor Kristina (Tina) Murphy patiently guided me through her dataset and my many questions. The Griffith Criminology Institute (GCI) has provided me with scholarly and practical support over a number of years. Colleagues in the GCI, the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and at Griffith Law School were always ready with insightful and critical comment. I am grateful to have been awarded a Griffith University Postdoctoral Fellowship which enabled me to finish the book.

At The Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra I owe a great debt to Professor Peter Grabosky. Peter has a particular skill in drawing one’s attention to fields of enquiry that, on first blush, appear unrelated but, when read, are anything but. Encouraging thinking ‘outside the box’ is also an attribute of Professors Valerie Braithwaite and John Braithwaite; they are ever stimulating. Val’s work on the micro-foundations of Australian democracy is a model research programme. She was hugely helpful in discussing what mattered between citizens and authorities and allowing me to use her dataset. Professor Sally Engle Merry, as an Honorary Professor at ANU’s Regulatory Institutions Network (RegNet), helped my thinking about the representation of research subjects in longitudinal research. Brigitte Bouhours and Lisa Stewart gave invaluable statistical assistance. I thank Professors Rod Broadhurst and Geraldine Mackenzie for access to their national sentencing dataset, and Thierry Bouhours for helping with the analysis. Thanks also to RegNet colleagues Steve Chon, Seung-hun Hong, Romina Paskotic, Kristina Simion, and Christoph Sperfeldt. Dr Sally Knowles was a wonderful teacher of academic writing.

Professor Julie Stubbs at the University of New South Wales encouraged my turn to political theory. Professor John Dryzek, then at ANU, provided enormous early help in talking through with me the difference between participation and deliberation, provided with me a pre-publication version of his engagement with Amartya Sen’s book, The Idea of Justice; and put me on to Jane Mansbridge’s work. Dr Elaine Fishwick (University of Sydney), and Professors Jonathan Doak (University of Nottingham) and Meg Garvin (Lewis and Clark Law School) were insightful critical readers.

I am grateful for permissions to reproduce some materials. An earlier and more expansive version of Chapter 7, including the figures, appeared in Robyn Holder, ‘Satisfied? Exploring Victims’ Justice Judgements’ (2015) in the edited collection from Dean Wilson and Stuart Ross, Crime, Victims and Policy: International Contexts, Local Experiences reproduced with permission by Palgrave Macmillan. Figure 6.1 and aspects of the methodology described in the Appendix appeared in Robyn Holder, ‘Untangling the Meanings of Justice: A Longitudinal Mixed Methods Study’ (2016), Journal of Mixed Methods Research (online), a Sage journal. Portions of Chapter 3 appeared in Robyn Holder, ‘Victims, Legal Consciousness, and Legal Mobilisation’ (2017) in the edited collection from Antje Deckert and Rick Sarre, The Palgrave Handbook of Australian and New Zealand Criminology, Crime, and Justice reproduced with permission by Palgrave Macmillan. Aspects of Chapters 6 and 8 appeared in Robyn Holder and Kathleen Daly, ‘Sequencing Justice: A Longitudinal Study of Justice Goals of Domestic Violence Victims’ (2017), British Journal of Criminology, Oxford University Press (online).

The research could not have been done without the trust and support provided to me by the staff at the ACT Domestic Violence Crisis Service and the Victim Liaison Officers in ACT Policing. Also in Canberra, over many years, I enjoyed wonderful collaborators who taught me breadth and depth across criminal justice and beyond. Thank you to Jane Caruana, Dennise Simpson, Nicole Mayo, Ken Archer, Chris Lines, Richard Refshague, Sue Anderson and Karen Fryar.

My son, Liam, grew up with my abiding quest to understand justice – through the professional years, the research, and then into academia. His interest now is in justice for the natural world. Bon courage. To the rest of my family – Mum, Dad, Jo, Christina, Phillip, John, Ciara and Leila – I am ever grateful for your love, encouragement, endless political argument, and good humour.