Misconceiving Mothers: Legislators, Prosecutors, and the Politics of Prenatal Drug Exposure

Sampul Depan
Temple University Press, 1997 - 207 halaman
A tiny African-American baby lies in a hospital incubator, tubes protruding from his nostrils, head, and limbs. "He couldn't take the hit," the caption warns. "If you're pregnant, don't take drugs." Ten years earlier, this billboard would have been largely unintelligible to many of us. But when it appeared in 1991, it immediately conjured up several powerful images: the helpless infant himself; his unseen environment, a newborn intensive care unit filled with babies crying inconsolably; and the mother who did this -- crack-addicted and unrepentant. Misconceiving Mothersis a case study of how public policy about reproduction and crime is made. Laura E. Goacute;mez uses secondary research and first-hand interviews with legislators and prosecutors to examine attitudes toward the criminalization and/or medicalization of drug use during pregnancy by the legislature and criminal justice system in California. She traces how an initial tendency toward criminalization gave way to a trend toward seeing the problem of "crack babies" as an issue of social welfare and public health. It is no surprise that in an atmosphere of mother-blaming, particularly targeted at poor women and women of color, "crack babies" so easily captured the American popular imagination in the late 1980s. What is surprising is the way prenatal drug exposure came to be institutionalized in the state apparatus. Goacute;mez attributes this circumstance to four interrelated causes: the gendered nature of the social problem; the recasting of the problem as fundamentally "medical" rather than "criminal"; the dynamic nature of the process of institutionalization; and the specific features of the legal institutions -- that is, the legislature and prosecutors' offices -- that became prominent in the case. At one levelMisconceiving Motherstells the story of a particular problem at a particular time and place how the California legislature and district attorneys grappled with pregnant women's drug use in the late 1980s and early 1990s. At another level, the book tells a more general story about the political nature of contemporary social problems. The story it tells is political not just because it deals with the character of political institutions but because the process itself and the nature of the claims-making concern the power to control the allocation of state resources. A number of studies have looked at how the initial criminalization of social problems takes place.Misconceiving Motherslooks at the process by which a criminalized social problem is institutionalized through the attitudes and policies of elite decision-makers. Author note: Laura E. Gomezis Acting Professor of Law and Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles.
 

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Isi

The News Media
11
Two Lawmaking and the Making of
27
Institutionalizing
41
Five Making Sense of the Gap Between Prosecutors
93
Conclusion
117
A Note on Methodology
125
Bibliography
153
Index
199
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Bagian yang populer

Halaman 169 - IJ (1994). Three-year outcome of children exposed prenatally to drugs. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 33, 20-27.
Halaman 173 - Ice is Strong Enough for a Man But Made for a Woman".

Tentang pengarang (1997)

Laura Gomez is Acting Professor of Law and Humanities, University of California, Los Angeles.

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