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By Mary Elizabeth Salzmann

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In the next two chapters, I turn my attention to a different arena, local prosecutors' offices. Chapter Four reveals how prosecutors interacted with first-round claims-makers and themselves functioned as second-round claims-makers through their rhetoric and practices related to prenatal drug exposure. Chapter Five looks specifically at how the social problem was institutionalized in the criminal justice system, explaining patterns of both prosecutorial action and inaction. In the Conclusion, I discuss the broader lessons we might learn from this case study.

At another level, this book tells a more general story about the political nature of contemporary social problems. The careers of social problems are inherently political, partly due to the character of the institutions that respond to them (as with the legislature and the criminal justice system here), but also because the process itselfclaims-making in the institutionalization stageis about the power to control the allocation of state resources. As a backdrop to the focus on the institutionalization phase, the first chapter traces the discovery of "crack babies" by the news media and medical science.

Through a review of the content of newspaper and news magazine articles and medical journals, the media and medical researchers emerge as the central claims-makers with respect to this issue. Then, the next four chapters draw extensively on a substantial base of empirical research, including interviews with lawmakers and prosecutors. For a detailed discussion of sampling and other methodological issues as well as a list of those interviewed, the interested reader should consult the Appendix. In Chapters Two and Three, I turn to the institutionalization phase by exploring the history of prenatal drug exposure in the California Legislature.

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Aa by Mary Elizabeth Salzmann


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