Par for the Course?: Exploring the Impacts of Incarceration and Marginalization on Poor Black Men in the U.S.

Source: Nekima Levy-Pounds, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN – School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-23, 2013

From the abstract:
African Americans represent 13% of the U.S. population, but represent nearly 40% of those who are incarcerated in local jails and state and federal prisons. Poor black men in particular are more susceptible to experiencing incarceration due to high rates of poverty, unemployment, marginalization, and exclusion from mainstream society. Additionally, laws and policies that comprise the war on drugs have fueled a tremendous growth in rates of incarceration for this segment of the population, with devastating consequences to boot for the children, families, and communities of those who are incarcerated. Further, this paper explores the links between the historical links between Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution and the current over-representation of African Americans within the criminal justice system. Finally, this paper examines disturbing trends in unemployment, poverty, and incarceration of African American men in Detroit, Michigan.

Law and the History of Corporate Responsibility: Corporate Governance

Source: Lyman Johnson, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN – School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-21, 2014

From the abstract:
This article is one part of a multi-article project on the role of law in the history of corporate responsibility in the United States. Key background material for the project is set forth in the introduction to an earlier article addressing corporate personhood. This paper deals with corporate governance while other articles address corporate purpose and corporate regulation.

Corporate responsibility concerns associated with corporate personhood, corporate purpose, and corporate regulation all ultimately relate to a far more basic issue: corporate governance. As the commercial demands of nineteenth century industrialization led to substantial displacement of the partnership form of business enterprise by large corporations with dispersed shareholders, control of these corporations – i.e., their governance – centered in the hands of senior managers, not investors themselves. This phenomenon of “separation of ownership from control” is quite different than in the typical partnership and was seminally described by Adolf Berle and Gardiner Means in their 1932 book, The Modern Corporation and Private Property. It has continued to occupy center stage in corporate law for the past eighty years.

From a legal history vantage point on corporate responsibility, the stupendous rise in commercial significance of the corporation in the nineteenth century corresponded to the precipitous decline of a regulatory approach to corporations under state corporate law, and instead, the twentieth century “outsourcing” of such regulation to an array of other legal regimes ostensibly designed to protect both investor and noninvestor groups. This meant that corporate law itself developed in such a way as to loosen, not tighten, most constraints on those who govern public corporations. The thesis of this article, developed in Parts I and II, is that corporate governance, both as a body of law and as a field of academic study, has historically had little to say on the important subject of corporate responsibility. Instead, the quest for greater responsibility in the United States largely has come from “external” legal regulation and from ongoing shifts in business and social norms. Recently, corporate law’s long and unsustainable neglect of corporate responsibility concerns has led to the emergence of a new type of business corporation, the “benefit corporation.” Benefit corporations expressly permit the directors to advance both investor and noninvestor interests, in aid of pursuing a larger public benefit. The implications of this development for governance of the regular business corporations are unknown. One potential adverse outcome is the “ghettoization” of corporate responsibility within benefit corporations, leading to even less serious attention to such concerns in the traditional business corporation.

Policies to Address Poverty in America

Source: Brookings Institution, Hamilton Project, June 19, 2014

Millions of people live in poverty in this country. They suffer not only material deprivation, but also the hardships and diminished life prospects that come with being poor. Childhood poverty often means growing up without the advantages of a stable home, high-quality schools, or consistent nutrition. Adults in poverty are often hampered by inadequate skills and education, leading to limited wages and job opportunities. And the high costs of housing, healthcare, and other necessities often mean that people must choose between basic needs, sometimes forgoing essentials like meals or medicine. In recognition of these challenges, The Hamilton Project has commissioned fourteen innovative, evidence-based antipoverty proposals. These proposals are authored by a diverse set of leading scholars, each tackling a specific aspect of the poverty crisis.
Proposals include:
Section 1. Promoting Early Childhood Development
Expanding Preschool Access for Disadvantaged Children
Elizabeth U. Cascio and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach

Addressing the Parenting Divide to Promote Early Childhood Development for Disadvantaged Children
Ariel Kalil

Reducing Unintended Pregnancies for Low-Income Women

Isabel Sawhill and Joanna Venator

Section 2. Supporting Disadvantaged Youth
Designing Effective Mentoring Programs for Disadvantaged Youth
Phillip B. Levine

Expanding Summer Employment Opportunities for Low-Income Youth
Amy Ellen Schwartz and Jacob Leos-Urbel

Addressing the Academic Barriers to Higher Education

Bridget Terry Long

Section 3. Building Skills
Expanding Apprenticeship Opportunities in the United States
Robert I. Lerman

Improving Employment Outcomes for Disadvantaged Students
Harry J. Holzer

Providing Disadvantaged Workers with Skills to Succeed in the Labor Market
Sheena McConnell, Irma Perez-Johnson, and Jillian Berk

Section 4. Improving Safety Net and Work Support
Supporting Low-Income Workers through Refundable Child-Care Credits
James P. Ziliak

Building on the Success of the Earned Income Tax Credit

Hilary Hoynes

Encouraging Work Sharing to Reduce Unemployment
Katharine G. Abraham and Susan N. Houseman

Designing Thoughtful Minimum Wage Policy at the State and Local Levels
Arindrajit Dube

Smarter, Better, Faster: The Potential for Predictive Analytics and Rapid-Cycle Evaluation to Improve Program Development and Outcomes
Scott Cody and Andrew Asher


The State of the Nation’s Housing 2014

Source: Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University, 2014

From the press release:
The U.S. housing recovery should regain its footing, but also faces a number of challenges, concludes The State of the Nation’s Housing report released today by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. Tight credit, still elevated unemployment, and mounting student loan debt among young Americans are moderating growth and keeping millennials and other first-time homebuyers out of the market. … Although the housing industry saw notable increases in construction, home prices, and sales in 2013, household growth has yet to fully recover from the effects of the recession. Young Americans, saddled with higher-than-ever student loan debt and falling incomes, continue to live with their parents. Indeed, some 2.1 million more adults in their 20s lived with their parents last year, and student loan balances increased by $114 billion. Still, given the sheer volume of young adults coming of age, the number of households in their 30s should increase by 2.7 million over the coming decade, which should boost demand for new housing. … Additionally, the report (and an interactive map on the Joint Center website) highlights the ongoing affordability challenge facing the country, as cost burdens remain near record levels and over 35 percent of Americans spend more than 30 percent of their income for housing. The situation is particularly grim for renters, where 50 percent are cost burdened and 28 percent are severely cost burdened (meaning they spend over half of their income for housing.) ….
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Does Empowering Resident Families or Nursing Home Employees in Decision Making Improve Service Quality?

Source: Darla J. Hamann, Journal of Applied Gerontology, Vol. 33 no. 5, August 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This research examines how the empowerment of residents’ family members and nursing home employees in managerial decision making is related to service quality. The study was conducted using data from 33 nursing homes in the United States. Surveys were administered to more than 1,000 employees on-site and mailed to the primary-contact family member of each resident. The resulting multilevel data were analyzed using hierarchical linear modeling. The empowerment of families in decision making was positively associated with their perceptions of service quality. The empowerment of nursing staff in decision making was more strongly related to service quality than the empowerment of nonnursing staff. Among nursing staff, the empowerment of nursing assistants improved service quality more than the empowerment of nurses

Do Corporations & Unions Face the Same Rules for Political Spending?

Source: Liz Kennedy, Sean McElwee, Dēmos, July 23, 2014

From the summary:
Corporations and unions face very different rules and requirements for their political spending. Labor unions must publicly disclose their political spending and, in some instances, face restrictions about seeking consent from their stakeholders before using political funds. Corporations do not face the same requirements. After Citizens United, there are many avenues through which corporations can spend money in politics without disclosing their financial support for particular candidates or causes. And corporations are not required to seek approval from their stakeholders—in fact, shareholders don’t even have the right under federal law to know if and how a company is spending money in politics. This paper highlights the differences and broad implications of rules governing political spending by corporations and unions. It recommends Congress adopt a comprehensive disclosure regime like the DISCLOSE Act and the SEC meet its responsibility to update disclosure laws for corporate political spending in the wake of Citizens United….

Split Definitive: How Party Polarization Turned the Supreme Court into a Partisan Court

Source: Neal Devins, Lawrence Baum, William & Mary Law School Research Paper No. 09-276, May 2, 2014

From the abstract:
Starting in 2010 the Supreme Court has divided into two partisan ideological blocs, with all the Court’s Democratic appointees on the liberal side and its Republican appointees on the conservative side. Correspondingly, since 1990 there has been a dramatic increase in the ideological gap between Democratic and Republican appointees. In this article we make use of original empirical research to establish that this partisan division is unprecedented in the Court’s history, and we undertake a systematic analysis of how it came about. We show that it is linked to growing partisan polarization among political elites, polarization that has shaped the Court in multiple ways. The sorting of elites into the two parties on the basis of ideology has greatly reduced the numbers of conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans who might be selected as Justices. The same sorting has prompted presidents — for the first time ever — to make ideology the dominant factor in appointing Justices.
Finally, political elites that tended to lean in a moderate-to-liberal direction during the 1960s through much of the 1980s have become far more polarized along ideological lines. As we show through original research on the voting patterns of Justices over the past forty years, Justices who once might have been drawn toward moderation are increasingly reinforced in their liberal or conservative orientations. One key reason is that the rise of the conservative legal network has worked against the “drift” of Republican appointees toward more moderate positions that was common a few decades ago. This analysis indicates that the current partisan division on the Court is not a temporary phenomenon; rather, it is likely to continue as long as the current partisan polarization continues.

Public Sector Unions and the Poor

Source: Jake Rosenfeld, OnLabor Blog, Guest Post, July 22, 2014

…Of the ten states with the highest public sector unionization rates, seven have poverty rates below or at the national average. Of the ten states with the lowest public sector unionization rates, meanwhile, seven have above-average poverty levels. Is this decisive evidence that strong public sector unions cause lower poverty? Of course not. But it’s certainly not the pattern one would expect to see if public sector unions increased the cost and reduced the availability of services to the poor. Other research is more dispositive: in a comprehensive statistical examination of what causes household poverty in the U.S., sociologist David Brady and his colleagues find that two key predictors of lower poverty is state-level unionization and working in the public sector. … Additional research points to the critical role public sector expansion and public sector unionization have on reducing racial inequality. Andrew Strom highlighted the historic Civil Rights drive to organize sanitation workers in Memphis. The connections between government unionization and African-Americans extend well beyond that campaign. … Recent privatization of governmental services has hurt African-American workers more than others, helping to reverse hard-fought gains. ….
When Unionization Disappears: State-Level Unionization and Working Poverty in the United States
Source: David Brady, Regina S. Baker, and Ryan Finnigan, American Sociological Review, Vol. 78 no. 5, October 2013 (subscription required)

What Do We Really Know About Racial Inequality? Labor Markets, Politics, and the Historical Basis of Black Economic Fortunes
Source: William Sites, Virginia Parks, Politics & Society, Vol. 39 no. 1, March 2011

Public Sector Unions — Some History and Economics
Source: Andrew Strom, OnLabor Blog, Guest Post, July 18, 2014
(subscription required)

Privatization and Racial Inequality

Source: Vincent J. Roscigno, George Wilson, Contexts, Vol. 13 no. 1, Winter 2014

New York’s “Poor Doors”: A Next City Explainer

Source: Ariella Cohen, Next City, July 22, 2014

Why do I keep seeing headlines about a “poor door”?
The term is quite literal. It refers to a second entrance in a luxury condo building for tenants living in units reserved for lower-income renters. It has become shorthand for segregation of people based on how much rent they can pay…. But what raises the hackles of critics is the fact that the developers building separate entrances for two classes of residents are receiving subsidies for the affordable units through an inclusionary housing program intended to create mixed-income communities. These developers are receiving lucrative tax abatements in exchange for the creation of affordable units and sometimes, like at One Riverside Park, also receiving a valuable floor area bonus in exchange for units. In the case of One Riverside, Extell is selling that floor area bonus for a profit to a developer looking to build nearby….. Plus, the two-class entrances is part of a larger trend of segregating buildings by rent levels; in a growing number of mixed-income buildings, owners are barring rent-stabilized tenants from using amenities open to their more affluent neighbors. In one Upper West Side building called Stonehenge Village, tenants weren’t allowed to pay extra to use the gym on the lobby level even after local pols intervened on behalf of tenants and public advocate Letitia James filed a discrimination complaint….

The 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book

Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2014

From the summary:
The KIDS COUNT Data Book is an annual publication that assesses child well-being nationally and across the 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Using an index of 16 indicators, the 2014 report ranks states on overall child well-being and in four domains: (1) economic well-being, (2) education, (3) health, and (4) family and community. For 2014, the three highest-ranked states for child well-being were Massachusetts, Vermont and Iowa; the three lowest-ranked were Nevada, New Mexico and Mississippi. The report also provides national trends, comparing the latest data with mid-decade statistics.

The 2014 Data Book is the 25th edition of the Casey Foundation’s signature publication. As such, the report also examines trends in child well-being since 1990, the year of the first report. It highlights positive policies and practices that have improved child health and development and features stories from several states on advocacy efforts that have improved outcomes for kids and families.
View How All States Rank on the KIDS COUNT Index
View How All States Rank on the KIDS COUNT Index
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