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Mariah Wood, RWJF Nursing and Health Policy Fellow Invited to Present at APPAM


Mariah Wood, an RWJF Nursing and Health Policy Fellow, and Shana Judge, RWJF Collaborative Visiting Assistant Professor, have been invited to present a paper at the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management’s (APPAM) 2014 Conference, to be held in Albuquerque, NM, November 6-8. Shana Judge, PhD, JD, the lead author of the paper “Racial Disparities in the Enforcement of Prostitution Laws,” teamed up with Ms. Wood, a former police officer with the Albuquerque Police Department, to complete the study. Ms. Wood served as a police officer for approximately 6 years, including work as a patrol officer, a field training officer, and a member of the department’s Crisis Intervention Team. Ms. Wood holds a BSN and MSN from the University of New Mexico and is currently working on her PhD in Nursing with a Health Policy Concentration as a fellow with the RWJF Nursing and Health Policy Collaborative.

Dr. Judge undertook the study to determine whether law enforcement’s emphasis on curbing outdoor rather than indoor prostitution leads to significant racial disparities in arrests. Her analysis suggests that law enforcement’s focus on so-called “street walkers” results in black females being arrested for prostitution at disproportionately higher rates than white females. As Dr. Judge noted, “because repeated misdemeanor arrests may adversely affect a prostitute’s health, any children she may have, and her ability to find legal work, this racial disparity has implications that extend far beyond a mere difference in numbers of arrests.”

As a police officer, Ms. Wood said she frequently had to arrest prostitutes but gave little thought to the race of the person being arrested. She explained that working on the paper with Dr. Judge “gave me the opportunity to reflect on these arrests while examining data that showed the actual effect of enforcing prostitution laws compared to the intended effect of doing so.” Ms. Wood added that “this type of research is important because we have a responsibility to make sure that laws we create and enforce result in the intended effect. If the laws do not, we may need to change the law.”

To read more about the paper, click on the following link