In Prosecuting Domestic Violence: A Philosophical Analysis, Michelle Madden Dempsey focuses on the dilemma prosecutors face when domestic violence victims are unwilling to cooperate in the criminal prosecution of their abusive partners. Starting from the premise that the ultimate goal should be putting an end to domestic violence, Dempsey urges prosecutors to act as feminists in deciding how to proceed in such cases. Doing so, Dempsey argues, will tend to make the character of the prosecutor’s community and state less patriarchal and thus help stamp out domestic violence. This article analyzes two issues arising from Dempsey’s work: first, whether prosecutors can justifiably be viewed as representatives of their states and communities; and, second, how prosecutors committed to using their discretion to battle both domestic violence and patriarchy would go about determining in a particular case whether to pursue criminal charges against the wishes of a victim.
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