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Abstract

Tabitha Walrond was a young mother who was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide after her two-month-old son died from malnutrition. This Comment examines how the portrayal of Ms. Walrond by the defense and prosecution, and in the media reflects gender stereotypes in the criminal law and society. The Comment posits the notion that Ms. Walrond was portrayed as either a good or bad mother and once so labeled, the judge, jury and prosecution view her as such, while ignoring her specific situation. As a result, a defendant such as Ms. Walrond may be treated either too harshly or too leniently simply because of what she represents, as opposed to what she actually has done. This Comment presents a three part gender-neutral approach to dealing with child abuse offenders. It concludes that a gender-neutral approach to prosecuting child abuse cases, particularly the inherently female offenses, would alleviate the disparity in the treatment of male and female offenders.

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Criminal Law Commons

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