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Imperfect Victims: Criminalized Survivors and the Promise of Abolition Feminism

"Be prepared to get angry. 

Through a blend of shocking stories and even more outrageous statistics, Goodmark challenges and complicates our country's dominant narratives about violence and safety. The main lesson of Imperfect Victims is not that police and prisons keep us safe from gender-based violence, but the opposite--that the legal system not only continually fails--but further punishes--survivors of gender-based violence. Goodmark challenges us to rethink long-ingrained notions of violence, safety, healing and punishment and to work towards creating the world we want to see."--Victoria Law, author of Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women and "Prisons Make Us Safer" & 20 Other Myths About Mass Incarceration

"In Imperfect Victims: Criminalized Survivors and the Promise of Abolition Feminism Leigh Goodmark puts forth a galvanizing call to jettison the current American criminal legal system as a response to domestic violence.  Goodmark’s decades of work representing victims of domestic violence inform this thorough and heartbreaking study of the myriad ways that our legal system fails survivors of intimate partner violence; she shows how innovative abolitionist approaches to intervening in violence and repairing harm are not only possible, but the essential way forward.   The devastating stories and structural flaws documented in Imperfect Victims: Criminalized Survivors and the Promise of Abolition Feminism demand that we do better for survivors of violence, and the book boldly points the way toward a response that always puts care first." --Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black

"With great passion and humility, Goodmark brings the dedication to freedom and commitment to justice that we have come to expect from her in this latest book about the tyranny of gender based violence and mass criminalization.  In Imperfect Victims, the words on the page come alive in the telling of the stories of criminalized survivors, surrounded by Goodmark's compelling analysis of how the legal system harms them.  Legal scholars, social scientists, policy makers, anti-violence workers, and activists reading this book will be moved to act in the direction of abolition feminism and away from dangerous reform work.  The anti-violence movement desperately needs to embrace more radical actions at this time, and this book will help pave the way towards liberation." --Beth E. Richie, author of Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America's Prison Nation and co-author of Abolition. Feminism. Now.

"An essential read for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of the concept of abolition feminism and supports the rights of all survivors of domestic violence." --Jennifer Moore, Library Journal (starred review).

"Goodmark buttresses her call for an abolition feminism opposed to the carceral system with harrowing case studies and hard data.  This provocation hits the mark." --Publishers Weekly

"Goodmark's work transcends the pages into the lives of criminalized survivors." --Gender & Society


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A Troubled Marriage

"A Troubled Marriage is powerful and spot-on in its challenges to those of us who have given over so much to the state through law and funding. It is a must read for everyone involved in crafting law, litigating for reforms, creating new services and assistance (which may or may not be what battered women would chose) and surrendering to the power of the state in so many ways.  I urge activists to come together for conversation and debate about A Troubled Marriage." -- Barbara J. Hart, co-founder, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

"In this important book, Goodmark bravely exposes the range of feminist premises about violence in the home, steadfastly confronts the paradoxical reality of under- and over-enforcement of existing law, and calls for a wide new range of remedies far beyond the ken of dominance feminism's crabbed penal imagination. Respect for women's agency and women's strategies in and through sex and power animate this dramatic, comprehensive, immensely readable, completely new approach. Goodmark's anti-essentialist feminism is the voice of a new generation. It could change the program of legal feminism, vastly for the better." -- Janet Halley, author of Split Decisions: How and Why to Take a Break from Feminism

"We all think we know what 'justice' is, what it looks like. But in this thoroughly researched and carefully argued book, Leigh Goodmark demonstrates that justice has multiple meanings, depending on who is doing the defining. She also makes clear that women who have been abused often find their ability to define and seek justice usurped by others who believe they know 'what's best.' Goodmark's analysis highlights the possibilities and limits of law for abused women seeking justice, and proposes extra-legal remedies that will undoubtedly spark debate, but ultimately may prove appealing to the true experts on domestic violence: women who have experienced abuse." -- Claire M. Renzetti, author of Feminist Criminology
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Decriminalizing Domestic Violence

“Visionary and comprehensive, this long-awaited book provides one of the most thoughtful and comprehensive analyses of criminalization yet. It is balanced in its analysis and brave in its critique of the ways that current approaches to intimate partner violence have failed to respond to the complexity of the problem(s). Goodmark has made a profound contribution to legal scholarship, the public policy debates, and, perhaps most importantly, the activist antiviolence community looking for social justice solutions." —Beth E. Richie, author of Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America's Prison Nation

"Goodmark offers a brave and decisive critique of our commitment to governing the problem of domestic violence through crime control and an alternative vision for protecting victims." —Jonathan Simon, author of Mass Incarceration on Trial: A Remarkable Court Decision and the Future of Prisons in America

"I believe that at the heart of this book there is a quiet yet firm appeal to revisit and re-embrace values like moral responsibility, citizenship, empathy and humanity.  As such this book would be a very good starting point for anyone interested in rethinking how we could become the change we would like to see in others and make our societies less punitive and morally just." --Social and Legal Studies
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