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Ma'i LeperaDisease and Displacement in Nineteenth-Century Hawaii$
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Kerri A. Inglis

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780824834845

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824834845.001.0001

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The Criminalization of Leprosy in Hawai‘i

The Criminalization of Leprosy in Hawai‘i

(p.46) Chapter 2 The Criminalization of Leprosy in Hawai‘i
Ma'i Lepera

Kerri A. Inglis

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter discusses the ways in which the disease and its victims were “criminalized” through their treatment in Hawaiʻi. At the heart of this discussion on medical treatment, objectification, confinement, and criminalization of those with a disease lays the question of whether those with leprosy were treated more as patients or as prisoners. There is no easy answer, yet there is evidence that those with the disease were often treated as though they had committed a crime in contracting the bacterium. The laws that regulated this disease and the implementation of those laws are hence discussed, with attention given to the “punishments” meted out in the policies of isolation and to the specific case of a convicted criminal (a Native Hawaiian) being used for experimentation, in hopes of finding a cure.

Keywords:   leprosy, medical treatment, objectification, confinement, criminalization, leprosy laws, isolation policy

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