This book is concerned with critically analysing the importance of the status of knowledge in establishing ‘truth’ about female defendants convicted of murder during the 20th Century. While the abolition of the death penalty in the UK has insured that the impact of this knowledge is no longer one of life and death, modern cases such as that of Sally Clark, whose guilty verdict was eventually overturned, nevertheless demonstrate the devastating impact that those with the power to define the 'truth' still have on the lives of individuals who are unable to construct a dominant truth of their own during their trials.
Using the key themes of truth, gender and power, the book also focuses on agency and rationality in relation to female criminality, masculinity and miscarriages of justice. Challenging official discourse which historically has incorporated entrenched constructions of women who kill as mad, bad or tragic victims, this book argues for the creation of new subject positions and alternative discourses within which female violence can be understood.
'Anette Ballinger has a reputation for meticulously theorized, yet accessible, feminist archival research. This welcome sequel to her award-winning book, Dead Woman Walking, demonstrates the dynamic nature of knowledge production and the continuing need to challenge the established social order in the treatment of women charged with murder.'
Anne Worrall, Emerita Professor of Criminology, Keele University
'Combining theoretical and methodological sophistication with empirical rigour, Ballinger’s excavations into the convictions of women for murder – from the early 19th C to that of Sally Clark in 1999 - reveal much about the gender of law and the state and, in her superb transgressions of disciplinary boundaries, about the wider heteropatriarchal social order.'
Steve Tombs, Professor of Criminology, The Open University
'Anette Ballinger’s new book is an eloquent testimony to the power of careful historical excavation to shed light on the dynamics of the present. By airing voices suppressed in powerful practices such as law, it shows us that law’s claims to truth are constructed from particular points of view, and can be deconstructed and revised.'
Nicola Lacey, School Professor of Law, Gender and Social Policy, London School of Economics