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Governance Feminism in New York's Alternative 'Human Trafficking Intervention Courts'

Governance Feminism: A Handbook (eds. Janet Halley, Prabha Kotiswaran, Rachel Rebouché & Hila Shamir (University of Minnesota Press) (with Aya Gruber), Forthcoming

Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 384

35 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2017 Last revised: 16 Mar 2017

Amy J. Cohen

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Aya Gruber

University of Colorado Law School

Date Written: March 2, 2017

Abstract

In New York’s new Human Trafficking Intervention Courts (HTICs), mostly female defendants are prosecuted for prostitution-related offenses and then offered social services in lieu of more traditional criminal justice sentences. These alternative problem-solving courts represent a reconceptualization of the status of prostitution defendants in the New York criminal court system: formerly regarded as low priority, quality-of-life offenders, they are perceived by the HTICs as presumptive victims of gender-based violence. This chapter explores the role that feminists, holding a range of views on commercial sex, played in the creation of these new courts even as it argues that virtually no feminist position — liberal, abolitionist, sex worker — should condone the arrest of women for selling sex. It explores how some feminists embraced the courts as depoliticized providers of services while others made strategic decisions to work with the new courts despite clear ideological misgivings. As such, the chapter argues, the HTICs raise questions endemic to all governance feminism projects: when and why is it worth it to compromise feminist aims?

Keywords: problem-solving courts, sex trafficking, prostitution, criminal court reform, governance feminism

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Amy J. and Gruber, Aya, Governance Feminism in New York's Alternative 'Human Trafficking Intervention Courts' (March 2, 2017). Governance Feminism: A Handbook (eds. Janet Halley, Prabha Kotiswaran, Rachel Rebouché & Hila Shamir (University of Minnesota Press) (with Aya Gruber), Forthcoming; Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 384. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2926393

Amy Cohen (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law ( email )

55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

Aya Gruber

University of Colorado Law School ( email )

401 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
United States
(303) 492-8441 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://lawweb.colorado.edu/profiles/profile.jsp?id=325

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