Leigh Goodmark IMPERFECT VICTIMS: Criminalization and the Promise of Abolition Feminism

Leigh Goodmark is the Marjorie Cook Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Frances King Carey School of Law, where she co-directs the Clinical Law Program, teaches Family Law, Gender and the Law, and Gender Violence and the Law. She also directs the Gender Violence Clinic, which provides direct representation in matters involving intimate partner abuse, sexual assault, trafficking, and other forms of gender violence.

Her earlier books include A Troubled Marriage: Domestic Violence and the Legal System, and Decriminalizing Domestic Violence: A Balanced Policy Approach to Intimate Partner Violence.

Her most recent book is IMPERFECT VICTIMS: CRIMINALIZED SURVIVORS AND THE PROMISE OF ABOLITION FEMINISM, published by the University of California Press. It’s the latest in their Gender and Justice Series.

Since the 1970s, anti-violence advocates have worked to make the legal system more responsive to gender-based violence. However, greater state intervention in cases of intimate partner violence, rape, sexual assault, and trafficking has actually led to the arrest, prosecution, conviction, and incarceration of victims, particularly women of color and trans and gender-nonconforming people. In Imperfect Victims, Professor Goodmark argues that only dismantling the system will bring that unjust punishment to an end. 

We spoke with her via Skype on March 7, 2023.

Articles referenced or pertinent to this interview:

‘What Success Looks Like:’ Advocates Celebrate the Relaunch of a Parole Assistance Program https://www.marylandmatters.org/2021/06/29/advocates-celebrate-the-relaunch-of-a-parole-and-reentry-assistance-program/

Community-Based Response to Intimate Partner Violence During COVID-19 Pandemic https://leighgoodmark.com/blog

Victim or villain: how guilty are the female accomplices of predatory men? https://www.theguardian.com/society/2023/mar/04/women-men-gender-violence

The trauma detective who combs through killers’ pasts to help them find mercy https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/mar/02/death-penalty-mitigation-specialist-sara-baldwin

The Forgotten History of the World’s First Trans Clinic https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-forgotten-history-of-the-worlds-first-trans-clinic/

What Will Happen To Everyone Who is Not White, Straight, & Male If We Don’t Speak Out? https://hartmannreport.com/p/what-will-happen-to-everyone-who

Rikers Is Already Awful, and It’s Worse if You’re Trans https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/07/opinion/rikers-island-transgender.html

The judge called Kenne McFadden a ‘nuisance’ — and let the man accused of killing her walk free https://www.insider.com/killings-of-transgender-people-transphobia-in-the-criminal-justice-system-2022-12

Anatomy of Doubt This American Life Feb. 2016 (2016 Peabody Award Winner) https://www.thisamericanlife.org/581/anatomy-of-doubt

Judy Heumann, Who Led the Fight for Disability Rights, Dies at 75 https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/05/obituaries/judy-heumann-dead.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage&section=Obituaries

We’re 20 Percent of America, and We’re Still Invisible https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/26/opinion/Americans-with-disabilities-act.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article