My research explores the translocation of health policy into the domain of American criminal justice. I probe this overlapping of domains by conducting ethnographic research on the San Francisco Behavioral Health Court (SFBHC), a unique, nonadversarial criminal courtroom designed to adjudicate offenders with psychiatric illness as demonstrated by a DSM diagnosis. The SFBHC works to remove these individuals from carceral settings and shift them to therapeutic housing and care sponsored by the Department of Public Health and local community resources. The court plays an active role in monitoring offenders’ progress towards mental health through weekly conferences with clinical and legal teams, in conjunction with face-to-face reviews with the offender and judge. My research investigates the multilevel ramifications of the importation of healthcare into the criminal justice system and seeks to account for the changes in notions of health and criminal law that result from the collision of two domains. I examine these questions in light of anticipated institutional changes in the state of California, from the modifications in sentencing laws due to the processes of realignment and the influx of funding for public health care as a result of the Affordable Care Act. I ask how these various legal, medical, and cultural changes impact the distribution of health care and create particular types of state subjects within the context of the SFBHC.
Irene Elizabeth Stroud
My project investigates American Protestant politics of reproduction around the turn of the twentieth century, through the career of Episcopal reformer Kate Waller Barrett. Barrett was the founder of the National Florence Crittenton Mission, a chain of maternity homes for unwed mothers. The Crittenton homes originated as missions to urban prostitutes, encouraging them to leave prostitution and find redemption in “respectable” employment and motherhood, and only evolved into homes for pregnant, middle-class teenagers (often coercing them to relinquish their children for adoption) later in the 20th century. Barrett’s leadership of the mission, documented in papers held at the University of Minnesota, illustrates the spirit of disciplining the poor that was often at work in turn-of-the century elite feminism, and also provides an example of the influence of eugenics on Progressive social reform movements.