Friday, July 6, 2007
The family used to be a kind of quasi autonomous jurisdiction from the criminal law. That had its dark side, especially the virtual immunity accorded men engaged in domestic violence against their women and children. On the positive side it meant that parents could exercise some discretion in introducing their teenage children to responsible drinking (rather then waiting for them to discover it at college binge parties). No longer. In the age of Governing through Crime the family is increasingly seen as a danger zone requiring ever more direct police and prosecutorial control. Whereas my mom would allow my high school friends and I to consume modest amounts of alcohol (and pot) in her apartment, today's parents face fines and even jail time for hosting an underage drinking party. According to a recent story in the Washington Post, one parent drew 27 months in Virginia for that crime.