The recent national efforts at reforming the welfare system and new research on the connection between teen pregnancy and statutory rape have led many states to enact stricter laws against statutory rape and to increase the enforcement of existing laws. Punitive statutory rape laws are being viewed more and more as a mechanism for shrinking the welfare rolls by reducing teen pregnancy. Rigel Oliveri documents the resurgence of statutory rape law and enforcement and explores the ramifications it will have on teen parents. In particular, Oliveri approaches the issue from several analytical frameworks, discussing arguments for consent-based standards, the privacy and substantive due process rights of both teens and offenders, and the practical needs of parenting teens. She also examines some of the theoretical tensions and pitfalls inherent in the criminal prosecution of teen pregnancies. This discussion leads to suggestions for possible improvements in the prosecution of statutory rape cases, as well as to the more radical proposal to eliminate many statutory rape laws altogether.
Rigel Oliveri, Statutory Rape Law and Enforcement in the Wake of Welfare Reform, 52 Stan. L. Rev. 463 (2000)