Health Politics and Policy
Gender and Politics
Race, Ethnicity and Politics
Class, Inequality, and Labor Politics
Feminist Political Theory
Feminist Policy Studies
Critical Race Theory
My work sits at the intersections of political theory and public policy and involves applying the insights of feminist and democratic theory to analyze policies affecting marginalized groups. In the past this has included drawing on democratic theory and policy feedback scholarship to evaluate U.S. welfare programs, and drawing on feminist theories of motherhood, health and autonomy to analyze the criminalization of drug use during pregnancy. My recent work has focused on women's health politics, and race and gender bias in the criminal justice system. I am currently working on a book manuscript on legislative efforts to establish labor rights for domestic workers, and an article on the conviction of innocent women for crimes that were later proven not to have occurred. I am also revising two articles for resubmission, an article presenting an intersectional feminist political theory of health, at Political Theory, and an article on stratified women's health politics and the criminalization of drug use during pregnancy, at Politics & Gender. My research has been published in Politics Groups and Identities and The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theory. My work with Frank Baumgartner on racial bias in capital punishment has been featured on the London School of Economics blog and on Vox.com
The Innocence Movement has had a profound impact on criminal law and criminal justice policy. We believe it can also contribute to ongoing reexaminations of legal and ethical theory – namely in discussions of the Blackstone Principle. As this paper shows, any discussion of this venerable principle requires attention be paid to the relationship between wrongful conviction and violent crime. When the state arrests and incarcerates the wrong person, the true perpetrator remains at liberty. In many cases these individuals commit a series of crimes during this period of “wrongful liberty” (which we define as the period between the original crime and when the true perpetrator is arrested). This paper presents an account of wrongful liberty, and its relationship to legal and ethical theory, as well as a first-of- its-kind documentation of all known crimes of wrongful liberty in a single state, North Carolina. Our experience in North Carolina suggests that law students working with undergraduate students and the supervision of attorneys experienced with state criminal records databases can gather such information easily. We believe this method can and should be replicated in other jurisdictions so legal scholars can develop a more complete understanding of how wrongful liberty informs the Blackstone Principle in the context of the American criminal justice system.
This paper examines the role of racial bias in the implementation of capital punishment. First, our analysis of existing literature confirms higher rates of capital punishment for those who kill Whites, particularly for Blacks who kill Whites. Second, we compare homicide victim data with a newly collected data set including information on the victims of every inmate executed in the USA from 1976 through 2013, some 1369 executions. These data reveal that Black males have been the primary victims of homicides, but their killers are much less likely to be put to death. While previous scholars have emphasized the over-representation of killers of White women, we shed additional light on another aspect of the racial and gender biases of the US death penalty. Capital punishment is very rarely used where the victim is a Black male, despite the fact that this is the category most likely to be the victim of homicide.
This chapter explores how health has simultaneously been a significant focus of feminist activism and also an underexplored topic in feminist theory. We trace both the theoretical challenges to traditional notions of health that came out of the decades of women’s health activism in the United States, as well as note the points within feminist scholarly work at which health makes an appearance. We conclude that feminist theorizing about health has failed to keep pace with its proliferation as a dominant cultural concept, and that feminist thinkers are only just now finding ways to recover some of the lost critical edge of an earlier era.