The Carceral State, System Avoidance and Bare Life: The Effect of State Policy and Policing on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Open Access

Deckard, Natalie Delia (2016)

Permanent URL:


This dissertation studies the effects of the growth of criminal justice and immigration control systems on the prevalence of the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). Understanding CSEC to be an example of bare life, this research works to delineate the relationship between increased carcerality and marginalization. It expands the extant literature by in three ways. First, I use rates of missing children and juvenile HIV to create and test a measure of the prevalence of the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children at the level of the metropolitan area. Second, I analyze the relationship between CSEC and ubiquity of the criminal justice system - operationalized with arrest rates, incarceration rates, and felon disenfranchisement among other measures. Third, I explore interactions between CSEC and the criminalization of immigration control systems. I conduct structural equation model analyses to estimate the degree to which more arrests, more deportations, more detention and incarceration are related to more vulnerable children. Results confirm existing theory that more intense criminalization is associated with greater marginalization and exploitation of the vulnerable. Controlling for racial, demographic and socio-economic variables also posited to be relevant to CSEC, both criminal justice and immigration control models exhibit positive correlations between the variables of interest. I argue that the increase in CSEC associated with increased criminal justice and immigration control systems can be understood as a manifestation of the increase in bare life that results from an increasingly carceral state.

Table of Contents

PART I. The Concurrent Problems of Criminalization and Bare Life 1

A. Biopolitics: Bare Life and Statelessness 2

B. Criminalization and System Avoidance in the Neoliberal State 4

C. The Commodification of the Exploited Body 6

D. Research Objectives 8

E. Project Design and Implementation 9

PART II. Theoretical Framework 11

Chapter 1. Criminalization and the Vulnerability of Bodies 14

A. Carcerality as Biopolitical Policy 14

B. System Avoidance, Bare Life, and Statelessness 32

C. The Nature of Exploitation and Commodification 37

Chapter 2. The Commercial Market for Underage Girls 43

A. Human Trafficking 43

B. The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children 46

C. Legislation to Lessen CSEC in the United States 60

PART III: Data and Methods 69

Chapter 3. Estimating the Commercial Sex Exploitation of Children 73

A. Difficulties in Measurement 73

B. Theorizing a Quantitative Measure 76

C. Building and Validating the Measure 79

D. Results: Components of the Measure of the CSEC 86

Chapter 4. Predictors of the Prevalence of CSEC 93

A. Carcerality Explored Quantitatively 93

B. The Controls 109

C. The Importance of Mediator Variables 112

D. Hypotheses 115

Chapter 5. Results: Structural Equation Models 117

A. Bivariate Correlations 120

B. The Constrained Models 122

C. The Role of Mediator Variables 128

D. The Full Model 133

PART IV. Research Findings and Their Implications 136

Chapter 6. Structural Contributions to CSEC, and to Bare Life 137

A. The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children 137

B. Economic Marginalization 138

C. Family Instability 139

D. Presence of the At-Risk, Ascriptive Groups 140

E. Transience in the Nation and the Home 141

F. Proportion with Fewer than Nine Years of Education 141

G. Anti-Trafficking and Anti-Runaway Law 142

Chapter 7. Discussion and Conclusion 144

A. Research Mandate and Contributions 144

B. Broader Implications and Directions for Future Research 147

C. In Conclusion 158

PART V. Appendices 160

Appendix 1: Case Locations 161

Appendix 2: Missing Children Clearinghouses 170

Appendix 3: Missing Children-Driven Calculations and Estimates 173

Appendix 4: HIV-Driven Calculations and Estimates 179

Appendix 5: Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Measuement 184

Appendix 6: Criminal Justice Measure 190

Appendix 7: Immigration Criminalization Measure 196

Appendix 8: SEM Tables 202

Appendix 9: Criminalization Measure 208

PART VI. Works Cited 210

About this Dissertation

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
  • English
Research Field
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files