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Abstract

Part I begins with an analysis of how the criminal justice system functions as a patriarchal tool of the state to control and constrain the behavior of women of circumstance. In the War on Drugs, patriarchy within the criminal justice system leads women to distrust law enforcement and the courts, and forecloses their access to assistance from a system that uses them as pawns in its pursuit of male drug operatives who are often these women’s intimate partners. Part II examines how these legal constraints upon women of circumstance intersect with women’s gendered roles in their families to eliminate viable options for extracting themselves from the tenuous situations that are not of their making. Ultimately, the legal bind discussed in Part I does not exist in a vacuum, but is preconditioned by the woman’s family situation and this results in additional constraints on women of circumstance’s choices. Finally, Part III examines how the wide acceptance of stereotypes about what is and what is not appropriate female behavior results in public antipathy toward women involved with male drug operatives and works to substantiate the legal system’s problematic treatment of these women. Importantly, these hegemonic beliefs about women’s roles also stymy reforms geared at remediating the Scylla and Charybdis-like situation faced by women of circumstance. While theoretically illuminating, understanding the combined effect of these institutional, familial and social constraints is also of practical importance for reformers seeking to change a legal system that systematically ignores or preys upon the constraints that bind women of circumstance. Part IV offers mechanisms designed to affect meaningful reform in this area of the law.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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