Britney Spears exposes a broken system

Abby Mills, Photography Editor

After years of scrutiny and hit songs, Britney Spears has never been more relevant and important than before. As the world watches her struggle under her father’s control, more people learn about the broken system of conservatorships.

A person is put under a conservatorship if a judge finds them mentally or physically unfit to care for themselves. Conservatorship or guardianship is one of the most restrictive forms of court intervention, it can strip a person of their medical, financial, and individual rights. People under conservatorships have the right to be treated with respect and to have needs met. However, these can easily be ignored. 

After Spears faced a very public mental breakdown, a judge viewed her as a liability to herself. Jamie Spears, Spears’ father, was appointed conservator in 2008. After 13 years under the conservatorship, Britney Spears claims that her father controlled her schedule, fortune, work hours, visitation with her sons, and ability to have children. She has repeatedly referred to her conservatorship as a nightmare and abusive. 

An abusive guardian can easily go unnoticed. Most people under conservatorships are adults who struggle with mental illness and the elderly. The main purpose of conservatorships is to protect the nation’s most vulnerable adults, but it can target them as easy victims. 

A majority of conservatorships are necessary, but the system and execution are broken and need to change. The conservatorship institutions’ failure to notice abuse is systemic. Many conservators work hard to do what is best for their clients, but the conservator system lacks funding. Most states are too overworked, and they do not have the resources to monitor cases properly. This leads to abuse getting unnoticed and unreported. 

It is hard to get out of an oppressive conservatorship. It took Britney Spears, one of the biggest pop stars in the world, 13 years and a viral campaign to discuss ending her conservatorship. If it was an uphill battle for Britney Spears, what does this mean for an average citizen trapped in a conservatorship? Citizens do not have the proper resources to get out of these abuses of power. Yet this may change soon. 

Due to the ongoing legal battle between Jamie and Britney Spears, many people have opened their eyes to the broken system of conservatorship and want to enact change. Inspired by her story, U.S representatives Charlie Crist and Nancey Mace have introduced a bipartisan bill that aims to protect Americans in conservatorships from abuse and exploitation. If the bill is passed it will establish federal safeguards to protect the nation’s most vulnerable adults. 

The pop icon is just one of the many victims of this broken system. Britney Spears’ father has said he plans to step down from the conservatorship but gave no timeline for his resignation. In testimony to a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge, Britney Spears said she wanted her freedom back after years under her father’s order.

I just want my life back. And it’s been 13 years. And it’s enough,” Spears said in her testimony.