Yesterday the NY Times published an editorial recommending the use of restorative justice as one approach to handling sexual assault and other types of misconduct at universities.  See the editorial here.

I think there can be great advantages to using restorative justice processes in a variety of settings.  My concern is that we have seen that universities don’t have a great track record in terms of dealing with sexual assaults on campus (in fairness, few institutions in our society do have a great track record).

I would be concerned that restorative justice not be adopted as another way to avoid dealing with sexual assault.  There are also a number of concerns about using restorative justice processes in any kind of sexual assault case (on campus or off).  When restorative justice is more widely used, it is often specifically not used in these types of cases.  This is due, in large part, to concerns that victims won’t be adequately protected in such a process.

It is good to see, however, that restorative justice is getting such high profile consideration.

Cyntha Alkon is an Associate Professor of Law at Texas A&M University School of Law. Prior to joining academia, she was a criminal defense lawyer and worked in rule of law development in Eastern Europe and Central Asia focusing on criminal justice reform issues. She is a contributor of ADR Prof Blog.