Enforcing Freedom: Drug Courts, Therapeutic Communities, and the Intimacies of the State

New York, NY

In this presentation, Kerwin Kaye will discuss problems with the drug court model, as well as the model of addiction used by both the courts and the treatment programs they work with. Kaye argues that the courts enforce a notion of freedom that relies upon racial imagery to justify punitive forms of “treatment.” It is not surprising, then, that the courts systemically discriminate against Black and poor users, working to intensify the war on drugs for these populations while mitigating its effects for white and more class-privileged users. Kaye argues that drug courts must be significantly restructured before they can become part of a genuine alternative to the war against drug users.

About the Speaker

Kerwin Kaye is Associate Professor of Sociology, American Studies, and Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan University. Kaye's work detail the models of addiction that are utilized by drug courts and their affiliated treatment programs, highlighting the mixed consequences that state-supervised treatment brings to participants. In an earlier project, he has also written about the lived realities and the changing social portrayal of male sex work.

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