The War on Drugs and the Gender Gap in Arrests: A Critical Perspective


Merolla, David. 2008. "The War on Drugs and the Gender Gap in Arrests: A Critical Perspective." Critical Sociology 34 (2): 255.

Author: David Merolla


Many theories of offending have been advanced in an effort to explain the increasing number of women arrested in recent years. In this article, I move away from individual level explanations of offending and attempt to explain this trend with a structural approach. Specifically, I argue that the 'war on drugs' has made females more vulnerable to arrest in recent years, regardless of offending behavior. I argue that two arms of the war on drugs, representing direct and ideological aspects of social control, work together to make women more likely to be arrested. This article contributes to the literature in two ways. First, it shows that scholars interested in the gender gap cannot ignore the war on drugs. Second, it shows the utility of a focus on the criminal justice system, and potentially other systems of social control, rather than individual level offending to explain trends in arrests. 

Keywords: criminal justice, war on drugs, vulnerability

Topics: Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Justice Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2008

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