Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters


Many African-American grandmothers are entrapped by the cycle of incarceration in poor black communities. This Essay explores whether the social and economic conditions that compel battered women to commit crimes also impact their mothers - who end up raising the children they leave behind. Professor Beth Richie's theory of gender entrapment as described in her book, “Compelled to Crime,” is not limited to incarcerated women who have been victims of domestic violence. African-American grandmothers who take on the role of kinship caregivers for their grandchildren are also entrapped by a complex interplay of race, gender, and class, making them vulnerable to poverty, generational diseases, and shorter life spans. This Essay concludes by identifying potential policy and legal reforms that seek to intervene in the state's management of black family life by empowering generations of black women with emotional and economic resources.

Publication Title

Washington University Journal of Law & Policy

Document Type



gender entrapment theory, African-American grandmothers, female incarceration, domestic violence, custodial grandmothers, kinship care, African-American children, Beth Richie