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Title page for ETD etd-08102017-152233

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Satcher, Lacee Anne
Author's Email Address Lacee.a.satcher@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-08102017-152233
Title Positively Criminal: Examining Florida's HIV Criminal Law
Degree Master of Arts
Department Sociology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Holly J. McCammon, Ph.D. Committee Chair
Richard N. Pitt, Ph.D. Committee Member
  • social control
  • policy
  • HIV
Date of Defense 2017-06-30
Availability unrestricted
Despite a multitude of scholarship surrounding HIV and the law, little attention has been paid to the factors that gave rise to HIV criminal disclosure laws in the U.S. As Florida was the first U.S. state to enact an HIV-specific disclosure law, this study focuses on the contexts under which Florida legislators radically changed the direction of states’ response to a then-untreatable illness. Drawing from both political science and political sociology literature on legislation and state policy, I argued that HIV criminal legislation is a mechanism of social control of marginalized populations and sought to find evidence for this claim. Using archival and historical data, I conducted an analysis of the processes leading to the 1986 passage of Florida’s first HIV-specific criminal disclosure law using an analytic narrative technique to discern influential factors in the enactment of the law. This analysis suggests that certain circumstances, rather than intentions, led to Florida lawmaker’s enactment of an HIV criminal law. This paper documents the cultural, social, and political complexities involved in parsing out significant factors for HIV criminalization in the U.S., and more generally, illuminates the agency versus structure debate within sociological theory and literature.

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