Author Archives: afscme

Critical Perspectives on Police, Policing, and Mass Incarceration

Source: Richard Delgado, Jean Stefancic, University of Alabama – School of Law, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2876702, November 28, 2016

From the abstract:
Shows that aggressive policing is only one of a number of measures that society uses to control minority groups with whom it is displeased for some reason, and that failing to see how the authorities deploy the different measures separately, serially, or in coordinated fashion is a serious mistake. Sketches a new form of policing that is respectful of minority residents and values, and provides a framework for reducing excessive incarceration and mitigating some of the cruelties associated with it.

Abolishing Immigration Prisons

Source: César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, Boston University Law Review, Vol. 97, No. 245, 2017

From the abstract:
The United States has a long and inglorious history of coercive state practices of social control that are motivated, explicitly or implicitly, by race. From chattel slavery to modern incarceration, state actors have regularly marginalized, demonized, and exploited people racialized as nonwhite. Immigration imprisonment—the practice of confining people because of a suspected or confirmed immigration law violation—fits neatly into this ignoble tradition. The United States’ half million immigration prisoners, who are overwhelmingly Latino, were almost all pushed and pulled to leave their countries of origin in part by policies promoted or supported by the United States. Yet, once here, Latin American migrants are relegated to a legal system that treats them as confineable based merely on their status.

Even worse is that the practice of immigration imprisonment, as designed and operated, has stripped migrants of their inherent dignity as humans and has instead commodified them into a source of revenue. For immigration prisoners, the prison operates as a means of segregation and stigmatization: immigration prisoners are segregated from the political community and perceived to be dangerous. For other migrants who, for the time being at least, avoid imprisonment, the prison symbolizes the state’s brute power. For the vast network of interested parties who have invested deeply in immigration imprisonment, the prison marks the location of production. Paid according to the number of people locked up, private prisons and local governments profit from human bondage. Meanwhile, opportunistic politicians reap political rewards by pointing to barbed wire perimeters and sizeable prison populations as evidence of their efforts to protect the nation.

This Article is the first to argue that immigration imprisonment is inherently indefensible and should be abolished. The United States should instead adopt an alternative moral framework of migrants and migration that is grounded in history and attuned to human fallibility. Doing so will help discourage harmful immigration rhetoric steeped in myths of migrant criminality and will foster better understanding of migrants and their reasons for coming to the United States.

Why Courts Fail to Protect Privacy: Race, Age, Bias, and Technology

Source: Bernard Chao, Catherine S. Durso, Ian P. Farrell, Christopher T. Robertson, University of Denver – Sturm College of Law, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-03, February 23, 2017

From the abstract:
The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable “searches and seizures,” but in the digital age of stingray devices and IP tracking, what constitutes a search or seizure? The Supreme Court has held that the threshold question is supposed to depend on and reflect the “reasonable expectations” of ordinary members of the public concerning their own privacy. For example, the police now exploit the “third party” doctrine to access data held by email and cell phone providers, without securing a warrant, on the Supreme Court’s intuition that the public has no expectation of privacy in that information. Is that assumption correct? If judges’ intuitions about privacy do not reflect actual public expectations, it may undermine the legitimacy of the criminal justice system and exacerbate social unrest.

Although prior research has shown that the police disproportionately target younger people and minority communities, judges tend to be male, white, educated, affluent, and older than the general population. Their intuitions may thus be systematically different. Even worse, cognitive science suggests that judges may have difficulty putting themselves into the shoes of the searched person or considering the reasonableness of the police tactics from an ex ante perspective, without knowledge about the fruits of the search.

With 1200 respondents, we conducted a large-scale survey experiment to test whether, and if so, why, contemporary Fourth Amendment jurisprudence diverges from the societal norms it purports to protect and reflect. We identify a range of privacy expectations for 18 different police practices. We use oversampling, reweighting, and randomization to investigate particular causes of this disparity between judicial and public expectations. We conclude by suggesting better ways forward, so that social science evidence can replace judicial speculation.

The Decline of Professionalism

Source: Rebecca Roiphe, Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, Vol. 29, 2016

From the abstract:
Traditionally, professionalism conceived of the professions as central to democratic society. Because professionals gained their status through reputation not wealth, they were in the best position to suppress their own self-interest in order to ascertain and pursue the public good. This Article argues that this traditional understanding of the professions was lost as a market ideology took hold in the 1970s. Professionalism gradually became synonymous with the delivery of services. This Article draws on this intellectual history to argue that aspects of the traditional concept of professionalism can and should be revived today.

Freedom of Information Beyond the Freedom of Information Act

Source: David Pozen, Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 14-541, February 1, 2017

From the abstract:
The U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows any person to request any agency record for any reason. This model has been copied worldwide and celebrated as a structural necessity in a real democracy. Yet in practice, this Article argues, FOIA embodies a distinctively “reactionary” form of transparency. FOIA is reactionary in a straightforward, procedural sense in that disclosure responds to ad hoc demands for information. Partly because of this very feature, FOIA can also be seen as reactionary in a more substantive, political sense insofar as it saps regulatory capacity; distributes government goods in an inegalitarian fashion; and contributes to a culture of adversarialism and derision surrounding the domestic policy bureaucracy while insulating the far more secretive national security agencies, as well as corporations, from similar scrutiny. If this Article’s core claims are correct to any significant degree, then open government advocates in general, and progressives in particular, ought to rethink their relationship to this landmark law.

Do Americans Really Save Too Little and Should We Nudge Them to Save More? The Ethics of Nudging Retirement Savings

Source: Todd J. Zywicki, George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 17-03, January 17, 2017

From the abstract:
The contention that consumers systematically “undersave” for retirement is a frequent example provided by adherents to behavioral economics and behavioral law and economics to purportedly illustrate their theories. Although frequently asserted, the claim that people systematically undersave is rarely assessed empirically.

This article, written for the Georgetown Institute for the Study of Markets and Ethics Symposium on “The Ethics of Nudging,” examines available data on how many people fail to save and the reasons why they do not. According to available evidence, the overwhelming number of households saves enough or more than they need for retirement; only a small minority does not seem to save enough. Those who do not save for retirement lack the money to do so or allocate available resources to paying down consumer and student loan debt. Behavioral economics theories explain little of the observed patterns of saving or non-saving behavior. Moreover, behavioral economics itself suggests that many people probably oversave for retirement and makes no effort to reconcile these offsetting biases.

More fundamental, once it is recognized that there is an opportunity cost to saving more — one must consume less today, borrow more, or work more — the theoretical validity of the claim that people undersave because of behavioral biases is suspect. Given the inherently subjective nature of opportunity cost, a central planner cannot be confident that he can make people better off by influencing their consumption expenditures across time than he could by shifting consumption expenditures across different goods and services today. It is concluded that there is little reason to believe that people would be made better off by nudging them to save more for retirement.

FY 2018 Budget Blueprint Cuts Many Grants, Provides Increase to Defense

Source: Federal Funds Information for States (FFIS), Budget Brief 17-05, March 17, 2017
(subscription required)

From the summary:
The president’s budget blueprint for fiscal year (FY) 2018, America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again, provides top-line discretionary spending levels for federal agencies with some specific details. It does not propose funding levels for most discretionary programs, or information on mandatory spending and revenues.
Related:
Spreadsheet

Show Us the Local Subsidies: A Second Evaluation of City and County Online Disclosure Practices of Economic Development Subsidy Programs

Source: Kasia Tarczynska, Good Jobs First, March 2017

From the blog post:
More than half of the nation’s 50 biggest cities and counties still fail to disclose online even the names of the companies receiving property tax abatements or other costly economic development incentives. Even fewer report incentive-deal outcomes: Only 13 of the 50 localities disclose the number of actual jobs created by one of their key incentive programs….

These are among the key findings of Show Us the Local Subsidies, a report issued today issued today by Good Jobs First, a non-profit watchdog group. ….
Related:
Press Release

2017’s Tax Rates by State

Source: John S. Kiernan, WalletHub, March 14, 2017

Tax season can be stressful for many Americans, especially those who owe money to Uncle Sam. Every year, the average U.S. household pays more than $5,700 in federal income taxes, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And while we’re all faced with that same obligation, there is significant disparity when it comes to state and local taxes. Taxpayers in the most tax-expensive states, for instance, pay three times more than those in the cheapest states to meet their civic burden.

As this year’s tax-filing deadline, April 18, looms closer, it’s fair to wonder which states have the most and least burdensome tax rates. WalletHub’s analysts searched for answers by comparing state and local tax rates in the 50 states and the District of Columbia against national medians. To illustrate, we calculated relative income-tax obligations by applying the effective income-tax rates in each state and locality to the average American’s income. Scroll down for the complete ranking, commentary from a panel of tax experts and a full description of our methodology….

Source: WalletHub

2017’s Cities Most Affected by Trumpcare

Source: Richie Bernardo, WalletHub, March 20, 2017

…According to estimates by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the recently proposed American Health Care Act — unofficially going by the names “Trumpcare” and “Ryancare” — would raise the average health-insurance premium for an individual policyholder by 15 to 20 percent just one or two years from now and lower federal subsidies. In contrast, the CBO projected, average Obamacare premiums would decrease 10 percent by 2026.

In order to gauge the AHCA’s impact on people who buy their own insurance, WalletHub’s analysts compared the differences in premium subsidies that the average households in 457 U.S. cities would receive under Obamacare and Trumpcare. Read on for our findings, commentary from a panel of experts and a full description of our methodology….

Source: WalletHub