What happens when one parent takes a child across international borders without the other parent’s permission? In 1980, the United States and international partners created a treaty that lays out the rules for what federal officials are supposed to do in such cases. Judges are instructed to send children back to their home countries – with very few exceptions. Lawmakers imagined the treaty would usually help left-behind mothers, trying to get their children back from abductor-fathers. Today, more than a quarter of a century after the U.S. implemented the treaty, the standard profiles of abductor and left-behind-parent have shifted dramatically. The majority of the taking parents – the abductors – are women. And most of those women are victims of domestic violence, fleeing their abusers with their children.

In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to execute people with mental disabilities. But the Court left it up to individual states to define mentally disabled. After the Texas legislature failed to agree on a definition, a decision from the Court of Criminal Appeals became the de facto definition, a definition based in part on John Steinbeck’s novella Of Mice and Men.