Alcohol policy – a risky business

Last Friday, the UK Government released its new Alcohol Strategy.  It outlined plans to more strictly regulate late-night alcohol retail while signalling to the drinks industry that it should do more to tackle excessive consumption through voluntary agreements. However, it’s headline-grabbing provision was the introduction of minimum unit pricing to tackle binge drinking.

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Lessons of the Narcotic Farm, Part Three: The Jenny Barn

Editor’s Note: Today, Points presents the third part in an ongoing consideration of the Lexington Narcotic Farm’s history and legacy.  Readers may wish to have a look at Part One and Part Two of the series, authored by JP Olsen.  Part Three, “The Jenny Barn,” comes from Contributing Editor Nancy Campbell, as a two-part post.  Look for the second-half of this post shortly.

The Jenny Barn

When the United States Narcotic Farm opened in Lexington, KY in 1935, it was for men only. Two decades of strict enforcement of narcotic controls had fostered an illicit underground of criminalized drug addicts willing to break the law for a fix – and they were mostly men. But in 1941 the Public Health Service opened a new Women’s Building at Narco named Kolb Hall. Everyone called it The Jenny Barn.

The "Jenny Barn" at Lexington
The "Jenny Barn"
"Using Women" (Routledge, 2000)

A “jenny” is a nickname for a female donkey.  That the term was applied to female patients at Lexington signals the depth of sexist attitudes at the time.  Representations of female addicts as more deviant than their male counterparts were common. Women who did not conform to gendered social norms carried a heavy burden of intersectional stigma, a subject I discuss in depth elsewhere.

The more polite moniker for the Women’s Building honored Lawrence Kolb, Sr., first Medical Officer in Charge, who campaigned to admit women. His logic, expressed in correspondence with his superiors at the U. S. Public Health Service, was the following:

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