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UW Professor’s Essay Named Top Publication by National Journal

October 31, 2016
head portrait of a woman
Susan Dewey

A University of Wyoming associate professor’s research work in the New Orleans criminal justice system that forced persons convicted of certain prostitution offenses to register as sex offenders under an antiquated (1805) statute was named the top essay by a national journal.

Susan Dewey, in the UW Gender and Women’s Studies Program, received the Best Article Award by Feminist Criminology for her essay, titled “Sex Workers/Sex Offenders: Exclusionary Criminal Justice Practices in New Orleans.” She wrote the essay with Tonia St. Germain, a former UW adjunct professor.

Feminist Criminology, published quarterly, is an innovative journal dedicated to research related to women, girls and crime within the context of a feminist critique of criminology. It is the official journal of the Division on Women and Crime of the American Society of Criminology. The journal awards just one Best Article Award each year.

In Dewey’s essay, she cites the New Orleans law that was enforced until 2012. Her article explores attitudes and beliefs that enabled Louisiana’s system to misuse the sex offender registry, targeting certain groups of individuals.

“The article draws on findings from a mixed methods study to analyze the means by which the New Orleans criminal justice system employed Louisiana’s arcane ‘Crime Against Nature by Solicitation’ (CANS) statute to convict sex workers and consequently force them to register as sex offenders,” Dewey says.

She examines how CANS’ application disproportionately affected African-American women and transgender individuals, leading the Louisiana Supreme Court, in 2012, to deem the law unconstitutional and, in 2013, to mandate the removal of convicted sex workers’ names from the sex offender registry.

“It’s very nice to be acknowledged for conducting practical work that helps lead to policy change,” Dewey says. “Whether as a researcher, as the admissions coordinator at a Denver women’s transitional housing facility or in the classroom, I strive to conduct work that improves, on their own terms, the lives of women struggling with addiction and criminal justice system involvement.”

Dewey, who has been at UW since 2010, received a B.A. (1999) from Stony Brook University, and an M.A. (2002) and a Ph.D. (2004) in anthropology, both from Syracuse University.

She has written nine books; the most recent is the forthcoming from New York University Press, titled “Women of the Street: How the Criminal Justice-Social Services Alliance Fails Women in Prostitution.”

For more information, call Dewey at (307) 766-3427 or email sdewey3@uwyo.edu.


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