three - Prohibition
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 March 2022
This chapter examines the role of the technology of prohibition in the governance of female drug use. It investigates the operation of this technology by exploring the prohibition and punishment strand of drug policy discourse, how female dependent users, dealers and traffickers are situated within it, and the impact the criminal justice system has on their lives. The rationale embedded within the technology of prohibition is that drugs are dangerous. The ‘danger’ of certain drugs is constituted as residing in their individual properties, and the physical, psychological and social harm they are constructed as causing is what must be prevented. As outlined in the introduction, the technology of prohibition and punishment is one of the regulatory techniques of government that is used to shape female drug users’ and offenders’ behaviour through the construction of particular problematic ‘identities’, for example, an unfit mother. While male drug users and offenders are also subject to this technology of power, this chapter investigates the particular ways it operates as a gendered form of control, for example, through the criminalisation of pregnancy and the gendered iniquity of the criminal justice system.
The proclaimed aim of the drug strategies in the UK, US and Canada is to protect young people, families and communities from the harm caused by illicit drugs. The idea is to do this by preventing, stopping, disrupting and reducing both the supply and demand for drugs. The idea within government rhetoric is that strong enforcement and harsh sanctions at international borders as well as within nation states, including the threat of incarceration, will deter potential users, dealers and traffickers from becoming involved in the illegal drugs market. While the sentences for drug offences vary in the respective countries, a consequence of these criminal sanctions in all of them has been an increase in the number of women and men moving through the criminal justice system for drug offences.
A cross-national analysis in the UK, US and Canada shows that as law and order advocates proclaim the importance of saving the family and upholding family values, they seem intent on destroying them. A consequence of the need to protect young people and families from the harms of illicit drugs has been to incarcerate increasing numbers of women who are mothers, and to separate them from their children.
- The Governance of Female Drug UsersWomen's Experiences of Drug Policy, pp. 67 - 90Publisher: Bristol University PressPrint publication year: 2015