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10 Ideas for Equal Justice
National Director Taylor Jo Isenberg Field Director Winston Lofton Policy Director Reese Neader Program Director Alan Smith Chapter Services Coordinator Dante Barry Student Editors Lara Geis, Adam Jutha Alumni Editors Adina Appelbaum, Michelle Tafur James Sheehan, Kate O’Gorman The Roosevelt Institute Campus Network A division of the Roosevelt Institute 570 Lexington Avenue, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10022
Copyright (c) 2011 by the Roosevelt Institute. All rights reserved. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors. They do not express the views or opinions of the Roosevelt Institute, its officers or its directors.
Congratulations to Marielle DeJong & Katherine Reilly, authors of Combat Injustice for Native American Women By Improving Tribal Law Enforcement Nominee for Policy of the Year
Inside the Issue
Financial Disclosure for Nonprofits Engaging in Political Activity Ali Anderson Making Healthy Food Accessible For Everyone in New York City Emily Apple Tax Deductions to End Chronic Homelessness Arjun Bhattacharya Combat Injustice for Native American Women By Improving Tribal Law Enforcement Marielle DeJong and Katherine Reilly Vote By Mail: A Way to Improve Low Turnout Elections Michael Francus Banning the Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners: A Case for Human Rights Stephan Grabner Implementing Alternatives to Detention for Asylum Seekers Kelsey Jost-Creegan Achieving Equity in Tax-Benefit Structures: “Grossing-Up” for Domestic Partners Erik Lampmann Ending Employment Discrimination in Ohio Cecille Murray Incentivizing Food Donation by Non-profits Ben Simon
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p Letter from New York City
here do groundbreaking ideas come from? How do they take shape? How do they fundamentally shift the way we see our world? It almost always takes the confluence of a seemingly intractable problem, people of intentional purpose, and a certain boldness to overcome. It’s a potent mix that can be seen in the advancements in workers rights spurred by Frances Perkins’s forward thinking labor policies to the environmental movement inspired by Rachel Carson’s revealing work on the damaging effects of pesticides. Ideas have real impact when there is the realization that we need to do better combined with the people who are bold enough to ultimately do something. The Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network provides a way for young people to tap into this process, a platform for them to unlock the potential to drive progressive change. We received a record number of submissions to our premiere publication series this year from hundreds of students who invested the time and energy to research, write, and design actionable policy solutions for their communities. The 84 authors ultimately selected for the 2012 10 Ideas represent a generation of young people who recognize that it is because of, not in spite of, their age that they are uniquely capable of tackling some of our most entrenched challenges. With a thirst for action, many of these students will use these ideas to build coalitions, gather resources, and recruit supporters to create real, sustainable impact. Among this group of thinkers, visionaries, and doers, I encourage you to look for the future Frances Perkins and Rachel Carson, leaders who are already combating the injustices of our prison system, reimagining how we use energy, and solving the obesity crisis. We are proud to present the 2012 10 Ideas series, an inspiring exemplar of our generation’s unique propensity to engage with and accept the responsibility of today’s complex and interconnected challenges. Each one of these pieces represents a powerful reminder that this generation is not only willing to build a better future, but has already begun. Taylor Jo Isenberg National Director, Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network
Strategist’s Note P
elcome and thank you for reading the fourth edition of the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network “10 Ideas Series”, our annual flagship publication. This series, encompassing six journals produced from our six student policy centers, represents the most innovative, game-changing ideas coming from our network. Our country needs a new narrative for how to address the problems we face: skyrocketing inequality, rising health care costs, unsustainable deficit spending, climate change, the list goes on. Defeating these challenges will require broad support from our citizens. And yet across the political spectrum the majority of the voting public has expressed strong dissatisfaction with their relationship with government. They feel that they don’t have a voice in how decisions are made. The work of the Campus Network, and our “10 Ideas Series” demonstrates that there is an alternative way forward-grassroots policymakingand that young people across the country are blazing a trail forward. Each idea in these journals represents the work of a student who independently took up the challenge of addressing our country’s problems. They worked at local nonprofits and visited community centers to identify the issues that mattered most to their constituents. They reached out to community leaders, professors, and government officials to identify resources that could address those issues. And along with writing the policy memos included in this journal they’ve developed public campaigns to attract funding and popular support for their causes. With this new model of engagement our students are bringing government back to “We the People”. We’re inviting you to join us. Reese Neader Policy Director, Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network
Financial Disclosure for Nonprofits Engaging in Political Activity
Ali Anderson, Mount Holyoke College The Federal Election Commission (FEC) should establish financial disclosure requirements for nonprofit organizations1 engaging in political activity or donating to political organizations and committees to increase transparency in election funding.
In the last three years, federal courts have dismantled numerous long-standing campaign finance regulations. Though Citizens United is the most well known of theses cases, the federal appeals courts ruled on two cases that are equally damaging. Together the rulings in Emily’s List and Speachnow.org paved the way for a new class of independent expenditure-only Political Action Committees (PACs): Super PACs. In their debut election cycle, Super PACs spent over $65 million on advocacy expenditures, and as of May 2012, raised over $200 million for the November elections.2 Although Super PACs are free from contribution and spending limits, they still must disclose their funding sources. However, many Super PACs are established as a subset of 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations, which are free to spend unlimitedly on political activities without disclosing their donors. This allows corporations, Key Facts unions and individuals to donate unlimited amounts • In EMILY’s List v. FEC (2009), the court ruled to a given nonprofit and remain anonymous. These that independent spendnonprofits can then donate unlimited amounts to ing by political nonprofits the Super PACs, which list only the nonprofit’s concould not and will not be tribution, protecting the original donors identity. In restricted.5 the 2010 election, donations from nonprofit orga• SpeechNow.com v. FEC nizations comprised a significant portion of Super (2012) allowed groups that PACs’ funds. The Center for Responsive Politics expressly advocate for or reported in July 2011 that five Super PACs received against candidates to raise over 80 percent of their contributions from nonunlimited amounts of money.6 profits not required to disclose their donors.3 Ad• Super PACs are allowed to ditionally, American Crossroads, the second highest spend unlimited amounts spending political committee in the 2010 elections, on campaign advertisereceived over one-third of its contributions from ments and electioneering nonprofit organizations.4 These organizations use communications on behalf the majority of their funds to create political adof candidates.7 vertisements, resulting in an influx of campaign ads funded by anonymous donors.
Since Congress first implemented campaign finance regulations, public disclosure of funding sources has been a central component to promote transparency and reduce the potential for corruption. Public financial disclosure provides citizens with access to information about individuals and organizations that support or oppose candidates and allows voters the opportunity to make informed decisions. Because Super PACs can spend unlimited sums of money on political advertising intended to sway election
results, they have a significantly greater potential to unduly influence candidates and voters. Therefore, elected officials may feel obligated to uphold the interest of their donors over those of their constituents, resulting in quid pro quo corruption. Without mandating financial disclosure for nonprofits engaging in political activity, voters have no way of knowing who • Talking Points is influencing their elected officials. Nonprofit disclo• Nonprofit organizations sure requirements would guarantee that the origins are not required to disof these monies be made public.
The FEC should establish disclosure requirements based upon current requirements for political committees and parties. These financial disclosure requirements would apply only to nonprofit organizations that elect to spend money on political activity. When making a contribution, donors must consent to the use of their contribution for political activity. This would ensure that the nonprofits know the origin of the money they are spending on political activity. Furthermore, these regulations would mandate that nonprofit organizations disclose donor information either directly to the FEC or to Super PACs, who would then list the contributions as a subset of the nonprofit’s donation. To implement these regulations, Congress would have to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to include nonprofit organizations in the disclosure requirements. This would give the FEC the authority and capacity to oversee the campaign spending of nonprofits.
close the names of donors and are allowed to donate unlimited amounts to Super PACs. • This increases the potential for corruption in politics by allowing donors to remain publicly hidden while nonprofits privately share the names of donors with candidates and Super PACs. • Nonprofit organizations engaging in political activity or donating to political organizations and committees should be required to publicly disclose their donors to promote transparency.
1. Nonprofit organizations are a broad category. In this paper, the term nonprofit refers to 501(c) organizations not specifically prevented from participating in or donating to elections as written in the tax code. 2. Center for Responsive Politics. “Super PACs.” Accessed 3 May 2012. <http://www.opensecrets.org/ pacs/superpacs.php?cycle=2012>. 3. Kathleen Ronayne. “Some Super PACs Reveal Barest of Details about Funders.” 17 June 2011. Accessed 23 November 2011. <http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2011/06/some-super-pacs-reveal-barest.html> 4. Center for Responsive Politics. “American Crossroads Outside Spending Summary.” Accessed 23 November 2011. <http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/detail.php?cmte=C00487363&cycle=2010> 5. EMILY’s List v. FEC, D.D.C No. 08-5422 (2009). 6. SpeechNow.org v. FEC, D.D.C. No. 08-0248 (2010). 7. Dan Eggen and T.W. Farnam. “New ‘Super Pacs’ bringing millions into campaigns.” Published September 28 2010. Accessed 24 November 2011. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/ article/2010/09/27/AR2010092706500.html> 8.Federal Election Commission. “The FEC and the Federal Campaign Finance Law.” Last Modified February 2011. Accessed 24 November 2011. http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/fecfeca. shtml#Introduction
Making Healthy Food Accessible For Everyone in New York City
Emily Apple, Hunter College To give all New Yorkers equal access to healthy, affordable food, all New York City residents should have an agricultural community garden within a 1-mile radius of their home where they may purchase low cost fruits and vegetables with cash, credit or EBT cards. Community gardens have been a facet of city life since the early 1970s. As of 2009 there were 490 community gardens across the five boroughs of New York City.1 These gardens beautify the neighborhoods but also provide residents with a space where they may grow fruits and vegetables. A reported 80 percent of community gardens grow edible produce, but the producer consumes the majority of the products.2 Therefore, community Key Facts gardens have done little to combat the problem • 1.8 million New Yorkers, of food deserts, which the 2008 Farm Bill defined nearly a quarter of all New as “area[s] in the United States with limited access York City residents, receive to affordable and nutritious food, particularly such benefits through the Supan area composed of predominantly lower income plemental Nutritional Assisneighborhoods and communities.” (Title VI, Sec. tance Program (SNAP)4 3 • 50 percent of the produce 7527) Large areas of New York City are considin 45 percent of community ered food deserts. Many people in these areas of gardens is edible5 high need get their food from convenience stores • In 2010, EBT sales at greenor bodegas that are not adequate sources of numarkets exceeded $500,000 tritious foods. Additionally, many of these areas , indicating a large demand have high concentrations of Supplemental Nutriamong SNAP beneficiaries tional Assistance Program (SNAP) -- better known for high quality, affordable as food stamps -- recipients. Because of the lack produce of healthy food options in many communities with high concentrations of SNAP beneficiaries, SNAP benefits are often used at corner stores and bodegas where healthy food options are limited.
As indicated above, the infrastructure for agricultural community gardens already exists, as there are over 500 community gardens in the five boroughs. Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx have high concentrations of gardens but they are not evenly distributed across the boroughs. In areas where there is no community garden, the city should subsidize the development of gardens. Community gardens already have the existing resources and infrastructure for growing fruits and vegetables; therefore, repurposing areas of community gardens to serve those incapable of growing their own produce would be a natural transition. These fruits and vegetables can then be sold and paid for with cash, credit, or Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards to accommodate those receiving SNAP benefits. The capability to accept EBT cards would increase access to healthy foods to thousands of low-income New
Yorkers. Due to the existence of established infrastructure, the only cost of this initiative would be providing community gardens with credit card machines capable of accepting EBT cards. This cost could be minimized by partnering with private companies that already provide eligible vendors with free EBT machines, such as JPMorgan, Fidelity Investment, or Affiliated Computer Services.7
GreenThumb and GrowNYC, New York City’s largest community garden programs, can assist in establishing the agricultural community gardens EBT program. GrowNYC operates greenmarkets that accept EBT cards and its core mission is to provide fresh produce to all New Yorkers, making it an ideal collaborator in this venture. Established New York City community gardens should begin to designate parcels of land specifically for growing food to be sold to community members who do not have the time necessary to grow their own food. With the limited space in New York City, it is likely gardens will be forced to repurpose existing portions of the gardens rather than expanding to appropriate new land. Talking Points
1.. Mara Gittleman, Lenny Librizzi and Edie Stone. New York City Community Gardens Survey: Results 2009/2010. (New York: GrowNYC & GreenThumb, 2010.), 5. 2. Gittleman, et. al. New York City Community Gardens Survey, 15. 3. United States Department of Agriculture. Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food: Measuring and Understanding Food Deserts and Their Consequences. (Washington, DC: USDA, 2010), 1. 4. New York City Human Resources Administration. Food Stamps and Emergency Food Programs. http:// www.nyc.gov/html/hra/html/directory/food.shtml (accessed November 28, 2011). 5. Gittleman, et. al. New York City Community Gardens Survey, 14. 6. GrowNYC. Greenmarket 2010 EBT Report. (New York: GrowNYC, 2010), 2. 7.United States Department of Agriculture. Important SNAP and WIC EBT Information. Washington, DC: USDA, 2011.
• Community gardens are an easy way to increase access to healthy fruits and vegetables for millions of New Yorkers living in food deserts. • Community gardens are nonprofit entities that can sell food at cost, making agriculture affordable for all. • Community gardens are eligible for free EBT machines, making produce accessible to those receiving SNAP benefits.
Tax Deductions to End Chronic Homelessness
Arjun Bhattacharya, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill The local and state governments of North Carolina should implement tax deductions for local businesses that hire homeless individuals to help end chronic homelessness in North Carolina. In 2005, the North Carolina Council for Coordinating Homeless Programs determined that nearly 13 percent of these homeless people were considered chronically homeless. Key Facts Chronic homelessness is generally character• A recent study by North Caroized by insufficient housing, income, and serlina Council for Coordinating vices, much of which can be mitigated by adHomeless Programs showed 1 equate employment. In 2002, the University of Pennsylvania calculated that a single homeless person in the United States needed $40,451 per year in services.2 In fact, Orange County, NC alone contributes up to $1,600,000 every year to the chronic homeless population. The current Ten Year Plan by Orange County proposes savings of $860,000 per year through the implementation of shelters and vocational training. This Ten Year Plan is insufficient to end chronic homelessness, as it focuses more on affordable housing, which does not address the root of chronic homelessness.1
that at least 13 percent of homeless NC residents are chronically homeless. • Chronic homelessness is categorized by the lack of a steady source of income. • Businesses do not hire homeless individuals because of spotty work records and concerns about personal character and integrity.
In a recent study, sample business leaders reported that they are wary of hiring homeless employees because of their spotty work records, inability to produce references, and lack of experiences in the line of work.3 These sentiments indicate that businesses need an incentive to hire homeless individuals. Recently, the Obama administration signed the Returning Heroes Tax Credit that offers $2,400 to businesses that hire unemployed veterans.4 A similar policy approach can help end chronic homelessness in North Carolina.
Using the Returning Heroes Tax Credit as a standard for comparison and Orange County, NC as an example, a tax credit to businesses for every homeless person in Orange County will cost the municipal government approximately $568,800 in tax dollars. Along with the cost reductions proposed by Orange County, the municipal government could still save up to $300,000 every year.1,4 In the early 2000s, Los Angeles implemented a similar strategy called LA HOPE, offering tax credits to businesses that hired clients of LA HOPE and job training for the homeless. A 2005 study of the program showed that over 54 percent of LA HOPE clients worked either full-time or part-time in competitive employment within 3 years. Some regional LA HOPE centers had up to 67 percent employment.5 Building off the LA HOPE model, the North Carolina state government can implement similar homeless mitiga12
tion centers in each municipality to help end chronic homelessness. Additionally, as a significant failure of the LA HOPE program was the inability to provide adequate shelter to applicants before HOPE certifications were issued, the North Carolina state government must consider temporary housing options to prevent applicants from leaving the program before the process unfolds. Such a housing policy will ensure the sustainability of the program.
It would be beneficial to the state of North Carolina if the legislature created a pilot homelessness mitigation center that would allow the state to test the proposed model: tax breaks for business that hire clients of the mitigation center and job training programs. The pilot program will be set in a • Talking Points municipality with high homelessness rates • Currently, the U.S. government spends over $40,000 on services (i.e. Raleigh or Durham) and tracked over per homeless person per year two years. Upon completion, the municipal through inefficient spending in government would analyze the effects and health care and shelter services. suggest further actions for the state govern• Through corporate tax breaks and ment, either to change monetary allocations allocated job training and housing for the program or expand the program to services, the government can save other municipalities. about $10,000 per homeless per-
son per year.
1. “Orange County Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness,” 2, no. 1 (2007), http://www.co.orange. nc.us/housing/documents/homeless_plan_complete.pdf (accessed November 21, 2011). 2. Culhane, Dennis, Stephen Metraux, and Trevor Hadley. “Public service reductions associated with placement of homeless persons with severe mental illness in supportive housing.” Housing Policy Debate. 13. no. 1 (2002): 107-63. 3. Chronic Homeless Technical Assistance. “Profiles of One-Stop Career Centers Serving Homeless People.” Corporation for Supportive Housing. (2005). 4. Office of the Press Secretary. “Fact Sheet: Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior Tax Credits.” Accessed November 27, 2011. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/11/21/fact-sheet-returningheroes-and-wounded-warrior-tax-credits. 5. Burt, Martha R. “Evaluation of LA’s HOPE: Ending Chronic Homelessness through Employment and Housing.” Urban Institute Research of Record (2008)
Combating Injustice for Native American Women By Improving Tribal Law Enforcement
Marielle DeJong and Katherine Reilly University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill To combat the high rate of sexual assault of Native American women, funding should be reallocated to tribal law enforcement agencies to provide victim support and foster communication between tribal and federal investigators. Key Facts As a result of the unprecedented rates • One in three Native American womof violent crimes against Native Amerien will be raped in her lifetime.5 can women, there has been an increase • Native women suffer 3.5 times more in legislation dealing with criminal invesviolent crime than the national average.6 tigations and legal procedures on Native • Four out of five perpetrators are American reservations. For example, the non-Natives.7 Stand Against Violence and Empower Native Women Act (SAVE Native Women Act) aims to improve victim treatment as well as investigative and legal processes by strengthening the authority of tribes to hold perpetrators responsible.1 Currently, tribes do not have jurisdiction if the crime involves a non-Native perpetrator or victim, or if the crime does not occur in Indian Country.2 The SAVE Native Women Act was introduced to Congress on October 31, 2011 and cosponsored by 11 U.S. senators. Recognizing tribal sovereignty and tribal self-determination, the U.S. federal government works directly with the 566 different tribes and villages as separate governments.3 In 2011 the Government Accountability Office released a report detailing the need for improved communication between tribes and the U.S. Attorney’s office. Because of limitations on investigation and sentence length, tribes often depend on federal authorities, causing gaps in jurisdiction and miscommunication because both governments represent constituencies with different interests and values.4
The law enforcement program within the Public Safety and Justice department of the BIA has requested a funding increase from the Department of Interior for the 2012 budget.8 These funds should be used to establish a program that would improve communication and cooperation between the federal and tribal law enforcement agencies. According to Associate Attorney General for the Department of Justice Tom Perrelli, “research shows that law enforcement’s failure to arrest and prosecute abusers both emboldens attackers and deters victims from reporting future incidents.” Research shows that a greater certainty of being caught is a more effective deterrent than an increase in the severity of punishment.9 In cases involving assault of Native American women, perpetrators are frequently not caught nor are they adequately prosecuted due to a flawed jurisdictional framework.
Congress should enact the SAVE Native Women Act, and the Department of Interior and the BIA should advocate for the reallocation of funds toward programs that prevent and address violent crimes against Native American women. Additionally, officers should be educated in Native American history by law enforcement experts, Native historians, and community leaders.
• The TLOA should continue to receive support so that it can actively effect change, and the SAVE Native Women Act should be passed by Congress to prevent violence against Native women. • Federal officials should be educated about Native American culture as a part of their training through the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)
• Talking Points
A law enforcement training program that encourages both efficient communication and cultural understanding will lead to a justice system that more effectively investigates crimes and prosecutes criminals.
1. “Senate Committee On Indian Affairs Examines the SAVE Native Women Act: S.1763.” United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. November 10, 2011. 2. Agency Group, 09, n,d, “The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010: A Step Forward for Native Women.” FDCH Regulatory Intelligence Database Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed November 20, 2011.) 3. 2011. “Departments of the Interior and Justice Should Strengthen Coordination to Support Tribal Courts.” GAO Reports 1-86. Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed November 29, 2011). 4. U.S. Department of the Interior, “Indian Affairs.” Last modified January 26, 2012. Accessed January 27, 2012. http://www.bia.gov/FAQs/index.htm. 5. “Senate Committee On Indian Affairs Examines the SAVE Native Women Act: S.1763.” United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. November 10, 2011. 6. “Senate Committee On Indian Affairs Examines the SAVE Native Women Act: S.1763.” United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. November 10, 2011. 7. “Senate Committee On Indian Affairs Examines the SAVE Native Women Act: S.1763.” United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. November 10, 2011. 8. The U.S. Department of the Interior, “Budget Justifications and Performance Information Fiscal Year 2012: Indian Affairs.” Accessed December 1, 2011. http://www.bia.gov/WhoWeAre/AS-IA/OCFO/ TBAC/index.htm. 9. Wright, Valerie. The Sentencing Project, “Deterrence in Criminal Justice: Evaluating Certainty vs. Severity of Punishment.” Last modified November 2010. Accessed December 1, 2011.
Vote By Mail: A Way to Improve Low Turnout Elections
Michael Francus, University of Chicago Adding a Vote By Mail option in low turnout elections would greatly increase participation. America is notorious for its low voter turnout rates; for instance, it has achieved 27 percent turnout in mayoral elections in major cities.4 To increase and encourage political participation, states should adopt Vote by Mail for local and special elections, as it has proven to raise turnout in these otherwise low turnout elections.
Key Facts • American mayoral elections averaged 27 percent turnout from 1978-2003, but have consistently declined, dropping an average of 8 percent over that period.4 • Oregon’s Vote By Mail system has consistently led to high turnout, such as the 2010 Senate election in which its 48.7 percent rate was 10 percentage points above the national average,5 and its 87 percent turnout in the 2004 presidential election, which led the nation.6
Vote By Mail increases turnout by easing the voter’s burden. Standing in line for polls takes time and raises the cost of voting; for instance, many voters take off work to vote, while others suffer for hours in the rain. These costs and many others provide disincentives to participation for many voters. By contrast, Vote By Mail, in which ballots are mailed two to three weeks in advance, offers voters convenience.1 Furthermore, mailing individuals a ballot serves as a visible reminder and creates a culture of participation.6,2 Oregon has been exemplary in its use of Vote By Mail. Since 1998, voting there occurs exclusively by mail and its 87 percent turnout led the country in the 2004 elections.2 Other states, such as California, have similarly experienced an increase in turnout from Vote By Mail, though only in low turnout elections.3 However, most states have not adopted Vote By Mail and at best allow for no-fault absentee ballots.
Vote By Mail has weaknesses, but these can be remedied by using it exclusively for low-turnout elections. While data are mixed regarding high turnout elections, all of the data show that Vote By Mail is effective in low turnout elections. The Committee for the Study of the American Electorate shows that Vote By Mail decreases turnout in presidential and midterm elections, and attributes the decrease to the diffusion of mobilization, whereby voters who were previously engaged by the public face of Election Day no longer participate.7 Kousser and Mullin confirm this decrease using a California experiment in which districts with Vote By Mail had lower turnout than those without it.6 The study attributes this decrease to voters no longer having a public feeling of going to the polls, which causes them to forget to mail their ballot. These explanations apply to only high turnout cases, and in low turnout elections, when there is little public visibility, the lower cost of voting enables more people to participate and the mailed ballot serves as a reminder. In such cases more voters do participate. In fact, overwhelmingly studies
of Vote By Mail in low turnout elections shows that it increases turnout.
Voter fraud presents a challenge for Vote By Mail even in low turnout elections, though not a crippling one. Sizemore argues that voter fraud is easy given Oregon’s system and explains numerous ways in which it could occur, such as requesting extra ballots and then voting repeatedly.8 While some fraud has occurred, states with a Vote By Mail system have implemented safeguards,4 and as the system develops, states will become increasingly adept at detecting and preventing fraud. This has occurred in Oregon, which suffered one controversy thus far and quickly proved that the 2004 claims of double voting were either false or caught by the system and under investigation.9 To date, fraud has not undermined any election and the number of fraudulent votes pales in comparison to the increase in turnout that Vote By Mail has achieved. Vote By Mail benefits those who would otherwise not vote because of the disincentives of the current system. Instead of not turning out because of the cost, these voters would have the opportunity to participate. Furthermore, because Vote By Mail is an addition rather than a replacement, voters who prefer polls would not lose out.
• American elections feature a startlingly low turnout rate when compared to the rest of the developed world. • Low-turnout elections show a great increase in turnout when the option of Vote By Mail is introduced. • Studies that look at Vote By Mail as an option in low-turnout elections unanimously show its success in increasing turnout.
• Talking Points
Vote By Mail has the potential to increase participation, particularly if used in low-turnout elections. Policymakers should implement Vote By Mail for such elections, enabling more citizens to participate and allowing society to live up to our values of political participation and citizenship. To do this, they should follow the Oregon model of mailing ballots out to residents well in advance and publicize Vote By Mail. Unlike the Oregon model, though, they should maintain some (but fewer) polling places, so as not to alienate voters who prefer them. Closing some polling places will balance the cost of mailing ballots, providing a cost-neutral method that can effectively increase turnout in local and special elections.
1. Richie, Rob. “Reaction Remains Mixed to Oregon Mail-In Voting.” By Michele Norris. NPR, March 10, 2008, http://www.npr.org/ templates/story/story.php?storyId=88074936 2. Jeremy Wright. “Mail-in ballots give Oregon Voters control,” Seattle Pi, November 22, 2004. Accessed November 24, 2011. 3. Thad Kousser and Megan Mullin, “Does Voting By Mail Increase Participation? Using a Matching to Analyze a Natural Experiment,” Society for Political Methodology 15 (2007): 428-445. 4. Neal Caren, “Big City, Big Turnout? Electoral Participation in American Cities,” Journal of Urban Affairs 29 (2007): 31-46. 5. United States Election Project. “2010 General Election Turnout Rates.” Accessed January 29, 2012. 6. Bill Bradbury. “Vote-by-Mail: The Real Winner is Democracy,” The Washington Post, January 1, 2005. Accessed November 23, 2011. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A40032-2004Dec31.html 7. Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, “Making it Easier doesn’t work. No Excuse Absentee and Early Voting Hurt Voter Turnout; Create Other Problems,” news release, September 13, 2004. 8. News with Views. “’Vote By Mail’ A Formula for Fraud.” Accessed November 24, 2011, http://www.newswithviews.com/Bill/ sizemore1.htm. 9. Dr. Paul Gronke. ”Ballot Integrity and Voting By Mail: The Oregon Experience,” memo, June 15, 2005.
Banning the Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners: A Case for Human Rights
Stephan Grabner and Laura Barrios University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Congress should prohibit the shackling of female inmates in their third trimester of pregnancy and during active labor in all U.S. correctional facilities. A standardized training program should be created for all correctional officers who work with inmates during labor, delivery, and postnatal recovery.
In 2006, the UN Human Rights Committee called upon the U.S. to follow the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and “prohibit the shackling of detained women during childbirth.”1 19 states still allow the practice in their correctional facilities2 and in doing so act against recommendations from the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the American Medical Association, which in 2010 denounced the practice as “barbaric” and “medically hazardous” to a woman’s health and well being.3,4 Shawanna Nelson was detained for non-violent crimes when six months pregnant. As a result of being shackled during labor, Nelson now suffers from permanent back pain and a damaged sciatic nerve.5,6 In the following lawsuit, Nelson v. Correctional Medical Services ADC (2009), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit concluded that the shackling of inmates during childbirth is a form of cruel and unusual punishment and as such prohibited by the 8th Amendment.7 Despite this ruling and mounting pressure from civil rights organizations, many states have no legislation prohibiting the practice.
Women have to be able to freely adjust their position throughout labor and childbirth to relieve pain and accommodate the different stages of delivery. Shackles not only keep them from doing so, but also impede a doctor’s ability to intervene effectively in the case of complications.13 As American Civil Liberties Union attorney Diana Kasdan put it, “a woman in the throes of labor is really not in a physical condition to overtake [the armed] guards and make a run for it.”14 Shackling seems even more untenable considering that two-thirds of all female inmates are detained for non-violent offenses.15
• Only three states have prohibited the shackling in the third trimester of pregnancy. 19 states allow the restraint of female inmates during active labor and delivery.8 • A U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that shackling inmates in a way that causes particular discomfort and humiliation violates the 8th Amendment.9 • The number of female inmates has increased by roughly 800 percent since 1977.10 About 5 percent of all female inmates are pregnant,11 with 2,000 children born in U.S. correctional facilities each year.12
Protocols for the treatment of inmates were generally written when the percentage of female inmates was negligible. However, the number of female inmates has increased eightfold in the past 30 years and continues to be the fastest growing segment of the prison population.16,17 Although the practice of restraining male inmates at all times while medical care is administered may be permissible, female inmates in active labor
present an entirely different situation and thus require a different protocol.
Although states should continue to have the ability to administer their correctional facilities in ways they find most effective, this is a constitutional issue of human rights and must be addressed first and foremost. The shackling of inmates during the third trimester of pregnancy, but especially during labor and delivery, should be prohibited for all state correctional facilities through federal legislative action. Exceptions may be made in dealing with maximum security inmates and those with a history of violence or attempted escapes, in which case some kind of restraint may be required. This could be done by permitting the use of longer and softer cuffs, which allow for the necessary movement while addressing the significant security concerns.
• Policies allowing for the shackling of female inmates during childbirth are in violation of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.18 • Shackling can cause interruptions in blood flow to the infant during delivery, which can lead to brain damage or death. The mother may suffer from acute stress injuries and trauma.19 • The practice is prohibited in all federal correction facilities, but protocols for state prisons and jails vary and are in some cases nonexistent.
• Talking Points
Additionally, states should be compelled to implement mandatory, standardized training programs for all correctional officers working with pregnant inmates in order to prepare the officers for the complex and challenging situations labor and delivery present and to ensure that the rights and safety of the inmates are respected.
1. “Anti-Shackling Kit,” National Organization for Women, accessed November 29, 2011, http://www.now.org/issues/violence/AntiShacklingKit. pdf 2. National Organization for Women, “Anti-Shackling Kit” 3. “Issue Brief: Shackling Pregnant Prisoners,” American Medical Association, October 6, 2011, http://www.ama-assn.org/resources/doc/arc/xama/shackling-pregnang-prisoners-issue-brief.pdf 4. National Organization for Women, “Anti-Shackling Kit” 5. Diana Kasdan, “Long Past Due: Constitution Protects Women in Prison from Unsafe Shackling During Childbirth,” RH Reality Check, October 6, 2009, accessed January 20, 2012, http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2009/10/05/long-overdue-decision-constitution-protectswomen-prison-shackling-during-labor-and-delivery. 6. Adam Liptak, “Prisons Often Shackle Pregnant Inmates in Labor,” New York Times, March 2, 2006, accessed January 20, 2012, http://www. nytimes.com/2006/03/02/national/02shackles.html?pagewanted=all 7. “No. 07-2481.- Nelson v. Correctional Medical Services ADC - US 8th Circuit,” FindLaw.com, accessed November 30, 2011, http://caselaw. findlaw.com/us-8th-circuit/1498723.html 8. National Organization for Women, “Anti-Shackling Kit” 9. As quoted in Nelson v. Correctional Medical Services ADC 10. “The Growth in the Imprisonment of Women, 1977-2004” Women’s Prison Association, accessed November 28, 2011, http://www.wpaonline.org/institute/hardhit/part2.htm 11. “Publication No. 175688, Women Offenders 8 (1999),” U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, accessed December 1, 2011, www.ojp.usdoj.govbjs/pub/pdf/wo.pdf 12. Geraldine Doetzer, “Hard Labor: The Legal Implications of Shackling Female Inmates During Pregnancy and Childbirth.” William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law 14, no. 2 (2008): 365. 13. “Shackling Brief,” Women’s Prison Association, accessed November 30, 2011, http://www.wpaonline.org/pdf/Shackling%20Brief_final.pdf. 14. Colleen Mastony, “Childbirth in Chains,” Chicago Tribune, July 18, 2010, accessed December 1, 2011, http://articles.chicagotribune. com/2010-07-18/news/ct-met-shackled-mothers-20100718_1_shackles-handcuffs-labor/2 15. “Focus Brief: Women in Prison,” Women’s Prison Association, accessed December 1, 2011, http://www.wpaonline.org/pdf/Quick%20 Facts%20Women%20and%20CJ%202009.pdf 16. Women’s Prison Association, “Focus Brief: Women in Prison” 17. “Facts About the Over-Incarceration of Women in the United States,” American Civil Liberties Union, December 12, 2007, http://www.aclu. org/womens-rights/facts-about-over-incarceration-women-united-states 18. “Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners,” United Nations, accessed December 1, 2011, http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/ docid/3ae6b36e8.html 19. Montgomery, Velmanette, May 19, 2009, “Legislators and Human Rights Activists Hail end of Shackling Incarcerated Pregnant Women,” New York State Senate Blog, http://www.nysenate.gov/press-release/legislators-and-human-rights-activists-hail-end-shackling-incarcerated-pregnant-women
Implementing Alternatives to Detention for Asylum Seekers
Kelsey Jost-Creegan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Immigration and Customs Enforcement should shift its model when processing noncriminal asylum seekers so as to assume Alternatives to Detention as the first-line response and to require that use of detention be justified by establishing that an asylum seeker constitutes a national security risk or a high risk of absconding. The right to asylum is one of the key forms of legal protection that is offfered to migrants arKey Facts riving in the United States who have suffered • Approximately 1,400 noncriminal asylum seekers are depersecution or face a risk of persecution in their tained daily in the U.S.13 countries of origin. To qualify for asylum, asylum • Detention costs an estimated seekers must be in the U.S. and must prove that $166 per detainee per night.14 1 they meet the definition of a refugee, as pro• Estimated costs of ATDs vary vided under the U.S. Immigration and Naturalfrom $0.40 to $14 per day.15 ization Act (INA) § 101(a)(42) (A) and (B) (1).2 The INA also establishes the process for applying for asylum, which is made up of both the “affirmative” and the “defensive” asylum application process. Applicants applying under the affirmative process must do so within one year of arriving in the country or demonstrate extenuating circumstances that delayed their application. Every day, approximately 1,400 non-criminal asylum seekers are detained in the U.S.;3 asylum seekers are typically detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) while undergoing the defensive asylum process.4
The widespread use of detention is problematic because it violates the rights of asylum seekers and because of its excessive cost. The United Nations High Comissioner for Refguees (UNHCR) holds that as the majority of asylum seekers are not accused of having comitted a crime, their detention violates the fundamental right to liberty and may be classified as arbitrary if not substantively justified by demonstrable risk.5 Any imposition of arbitrary detention violates the U.S. Constitution and thus must be highly scrutinized. Detention is additionally problematic because of conditions in detention facilities; detained asylum seekers are often housed in jails or jail-like institutions and are treated as criminals, forced to wear prison uniforms, handcuffs, and sometimes even shackles.6 Furthermore, the use of detention is expensive, with an estimated base cost of $122 per detainee per day, and this estimate increases to $166 when operational costs are considered.7 Given the realities of limited government resources, such an expensive program should be critically examined and have to prove significantly higher success rates than less expensive alternatives in order to merit its implementation.
ICE should limit the detention of non-criminal asylum seekers in favor of Alternatives to Detention (ATDs). ATDs are preexisting, effective and less expensive than detention, and include measures such as telephone reporting, radio frequency, global positioning tracking and home visits.8 While the ICE has increased use of ATDs,9 the agency should
shift its model so that ATDs are consistently explored as the first solution. Accord• Talking Points • Detention of non-criminal asylum ingly, the burden of proof must be shifted seekers is excessively expensive and such that authorities have to justify the use raises human rights concerns. of detention with evidence of security or • This detention can also constitute absconding risks; under the current paraarbitrary detention when detainees digm, asylum seekers must demonstrate do not demonstrate high risk. that they are not a security risk or high risk • ATDs are proven to be effective and of absconding in order to qualify for ATDs. are considerably less costly and less ATDs are less restrictive than detention restrictive than detention. and thereby constitute less of a violation of asylum seekers’ freedoms. Furthermore, daily ATD program costs are estimated to vary between $0.30 and $14 per day.10 ATDs are also proven to be effective, with a 9398 percent immigration court appearance rate.11 Authorities could still detain asylum seekers with a criminal record or those that posed a demonstrable risk. Furthermore, the increased implementation of ATDs would free up funding that could be shifted to programs proven to effectively increase national security. Other critics may argue that ATDs continue to violate the human rights of asylum seekers and that all detention measures should be eliminated.12 Given current national security concerns, however, ATDs represent a more viable option and would be an important step toward improved protection. Opponents may also raise concerns about the economic self-sufficiency of noncriminal asylum seekers released and monitored through ATDs. These individuals could be regulated, however, by the same policies that already exist to govern the economic and employment status of the proportion of asylum seekers that are released into the community and are neither detained nor monitored through ATDs.
1. INA § 208(a)(2)(E) (Online at http://www.uscis.gov/ilink/docView/SLB/HTML/SLB/0-0-0-1/0-0-0-29/0-0-0-1687.html) 2. INA § 101(a)(42) (A) and (B) (Online at http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.f6da51a2342135be7e9d7a10e0dc91a0/?vgnextoid=fa 7e539dc4bed010VgnVCM1000000ecd190aRCRD&vgnextchannel=fa7e539dc4bed010VgnVCM1000000ecd190aRCRD&CH=act) 3. Schriro, Dora. 2009.”Immigration Detention Overview and Recommendations”. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 6 October 2009. http://www.ice.gov/doclib/about/offices/odpp/pdf/ice-detention-rpt.pdf (last accessed October 30, 2011). 4. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 2011. “Obtaining Asylum in the United States.” 10 March 2011. http://www.uscis.gov/ portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=dab9f067e3183210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnext channel=f39d3e4d77d73210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD (last accessed October 30, 2011). 5. UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Detention of Asylum-Seekers and Refugees: The Framework, the Problem and Recommended Practice, 4 June 1999, EC/49/SC/CRP.13, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/47fdfaf33b5.html (last accessed October 30, 2011) 6. Human Rights First (HRF). 2007. Background Briefing Note: Detention of Asylum Seekers in the United States: Arbitrary Under the ICCPR, at 6 (Jan. 2007), available at http://www.humanrightsfirst.info/pdf/061206-asy-bac-un-arb-det-asy-us.pdf (last accessed October 30, 2011). 7. National Immigration Forum. 2011. “The Math of Immigration Detention: Runaway Costs for Immigration Detention Do Not Add Up to Sensible Policies.” August 2011. http://www.immigrationforum.org/images/uploads/MathofImmigrationDetention.pdf (last accessed October 30, 2011), p. 2. 8. Schriro, pg. 20. 9. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 2009. “US initiative offers asylum-seekers an alternative to detention.” 25 November 2009. http://www.unhcr.org/4b0d643a6.html (last accessed October 30, 2011). 10. National Immigration Forum, p. 6. 11. American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). “Alternatives to Detention Position Paper”. http://www.aila.org/content/default. aspx?docid=25874 (last accessed October 30, 2011). 12. UNHCR. 13. Schriro, Dora. 2009.”Immigration Detention Overview and Recommendations”. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 6 October 2009. http://www.ice.gov/doclib/about/offices/odpp/pdf/ice-detention-rpt.pdf (last accessed October 30, 2011). 14. National Immigration Forum. 2011. “The Math of Immigration Detention: Runaway Costs for Immigration Detention Do Not Add Up to Sensible Policies.” August 2011. http://www.immigrationforum.org/images/uploads/MathofImmigrationDetention.pdf (last accessed October 30, 2011), p. 2. 15. Ibid., p. 6. 16. The Global Detention Project (GDP). 2009. “United States Detention Profile.” March 2009. http://www.globaldetentionproject.org/ countries/americas/united-states/introduction.html (last accessed October 30, 2011). 17. Wasem, Ruth Elle. 2005. U.S. Immigration Policy on Asylum Seekers. May 5, 2005. http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL32621.pdf (last accessed October 30, 2011).
Achieving Equity in Tax-Benefit Structures: “Grossing-Up” for Domestic Partners
Erik Lampmann, University of Richmond Employers should change their LGBTQ priorities to include the absorption of an added tax on the transfer of health benefits among domestic partners while advocating for the repeal of the exclusionary Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The 1996 DOMA defined marriage as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, [where] the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife.”1 This legislation affects the daily lives of the estimated 901,997 U.S. same-sex couples.2 However, LGBTQ activists did not originally recognize another effect of DOMA – the law’s impact on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) policy whereby health care benefits transferred by employees to registered domestic partners – within those organizations that recognize domestic partnerships – are taxed as income. This policy results in same-sex couples paying on average at least $1,069 more than identical heterosexual, married couples in taxes.3
• DOMA-regulated IRS practices tax the health benefits transferred within same-sex couples in those organizations that recognize domestic partnerships. This results in same-sex couples paying on average at least $1,069 more in taxes than identical heterosexual, married couples.7 • Efforts to eliminate this unfair tax burden focus on “grossingup” wages -- increasing pre-tax wages to absorb the federal tax on transferred health benefits.
In attempting to ameliorate inequitable tax practices affecting same-sex couples, progressive organizations are “grossing-up” the wages of employees in same-sex partnerships. This practice involves increasing employees’ pre-tax salaries in order to account for the tax on shared health benefits and the added income tax of such an adjustment.4 In this way, they equalize the tax burdens paid by employees regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Tech start-ups and investment houses, in particular, including Google, Facebook, Apple, Barclay’s, and Goldman Sachs all “grossup” domestic partners’ wages.5 Recently, Bowdoin College also instituted a similar policy. Action by these employers motivated the Tax Parity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act of 2011, introduced by Senator Charles Schumer along with eighteen cosponsors on June 9, 2011 and since referred to the Committee on Finance.6
Existing policy on domestic partner benefits places an unfair tax burden on same-sex couples. While DOMA remains a significant roadblock on the way toward a culture of inclusion with respect to LGBTQ Americans, by removing the tax burden currently enforced by the IRS in conjunction with federal law, we can make using health care, filing tax returns, and pursuing employment that much easier for same-sex couples. The current tax structure fails to account for the increasing number of organizations that recognize domestic partnerships, number of same-sex couples, as well as state-level successes with marriage equality. Institutionalizing a more equitable tax structure for recipients of
domestic partnership benefits would clear up confusion among couples, legislators, and lawyers in states that do recognize civil unions, marriage equality, or samesex relationships that originated in other states. Amending the existing tax structure imposed on domestic partnership beneficiaries will positively affect almost a million same-sex couples in the United States by removing everyday difficulties of taxes, health insurance, and employment options.
• Tax regulations place an unfair tax burden on recognized same-sex couples by treating benefits transferred between partners as taxable income under DOMA. • By reimbursing employees for the tax on transferred benefits, organizations can take immediate action to correct for existing inequalities as outlined in the Tax Parity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act of 2011 and move towards more equitable national policy.
• Talking Points
It is essential that progressives across the United States highlight this issue in national discourse by amplifying the experiences with tax inequities among same-sex couples through storytelling. Using Senator Schumer’s bill as a template, organizations that recognize domestic partnerships can implement “grossing-up” practices and join a coalition of 80 businesses committed to “tax equity” to place political pressure on officials to legislate.8 Once this issue attracts more supporters -- particularly among employee LGBTQ affinity groups -- a critical mass will be able to force change in Congress that will eventually lead to the repeal of DOMA.
1. H.R. 3396, 104th Cong., The Library of Congress (1996) (enacted). 2. U.S. Census Bureau, “Census Bureau Releases Estimates of Same-Sex Married Couples,” news release, September 27, 2011, U.S. Census Bureau : Newsroom, http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/2010_census/cb11-cn181.html. 3. M. V. Lee Badgett, Unequal Taxes on Unequal Benefits: The Taxation of Domestic Partner Benefit, report (Williams Institute, University of California -- Los Angeles). 4. Todd A. Solomon, Domestic Partner Benefits: An Employer’s Guide, report, 7th ed. (Thompson Media Group, LLC, 2011). 5. Tara Siegel Barnard, “A Progress Report on Gay Employee Health Benefits,”New York Times : Business Day November 18, 2011, accessed November 28, 2011, http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/14/aprogress-report-on-gay-employee-health-benefits/. 6. Tax Parity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act of 2011, S. 1171, 112th Cong., The Library of Congress (2011). 7. M. V. Lee Badgett, Unequal Taxes on Unequal Benefits: The Taxation of Domestic Partner Benefit, report (Williams Institute, University of California -- Los Angeles). 8. “Business Coalition for Benefits Tax Equity, Members,” Human Rights Campaign, April 15, 2011, section goes here, accessed November 25, 2011, http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/business-coalition-for-benefits-tax-equity-members.
Ending Employment Discrimination in Ohio
Cecille Murray, University of Chicago Ohio should pass a law preventing discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. In a 2009 study, more than one in 10 lesbian, gay, or transgender people from across the U.S. reported having experienced employment or housing discrimination.1 According to a 2002 study, gay males earn between 16 percent and 28 percent less than their heterosexual male counterparts.2 Further, 90 percent of the transgender population has experienced some kind of employment discrimination.3 To stop this abuse of civil rights and safeguard the welfare of all Ohioans, the state of Ohio should add sexual orientation and gender identity to existing law protecting against such discriminatory employment practices.
The definitions of sexual orientation and gender identity as given in H.B. 335 are insufficiently clear or broad. Currently, the bill defines sexual orientation as “actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality,” which is similar to the definitions used by some other U.S. states that have enacted similar laws. However, in 2006, an international panel of human rights experts generated a set of more comprehensive definitions. Their improved definition of sexual orientation includes “the Key Facts capacity for profound emotional, affectional and sexu• More than one in 10 lesal attraction to, and intimate and sexual relations with, bian, gay, or transgender individuals of a different gender or the same gender or people from across the U.S. reported having exmore than one gender,” or lack thereof.4 This definition guarantees protection to a wider section of the population and is similar to the legal definition currently used in Minnesota.5 More importantly, defining sexual orientation without creating specific subcategories of attraction helps ensure that the law protects everyone, regardless of their orientation.
perienced employment discrimination. • 90 percent of transgender people have either experienced discrimination on the job or hid their identity to avoid it.
The elimination of employment discrimination would not only protect especially vulnerable sections of the population, but also makes good economic sense. The poverty rates for homosexual men and women are above the national average, and they are more likely to be receiving public assistance than their heterosexual counterparts.6 Transgender people, meanwhile, have unemployment and homelessness rates at nearly double that of the general population, likely as a result of the widespread prejudices they face.7 By eliminating discrimination in the workplace, Ohio could provide these vulnerable individuals with the opportunity to better their situation without needing to spend significantly more state funds.
Since job discrimination contributes to the economic disadvantages these communities face, ending it could help thousands of Ohioans improve their economic status. H.B. 335
also includes important provisions preventing housing discrimination, which, in combination with improved employment prospects, could help remedy the problem of homelessness. Fewer homeless people and more employment would then benefit all Ohioans,
• Adding sexual orientation or gender identity to existing categories like race, age, and religion that are protected from employment discrimination would help Ohioans combat discrimination on the basis of personal characteristics that have no impact on their job performance. • Further, promoting sexual equality through legal protection would combat poverty and homelessness by improving the employment prospects of homosexual and transgender people.
• Talking Points
without significant costs to the state.
1. Herek, Gregory M, “Hate Crimes and Stigma-Related Experiences Among Sexual Minority Adults in the United States,” Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 24, no. 1 (January 2009), 54-74, http://jiv.sagepub. com/content/24/1/54 (accessed February 20, 2012). 2. Nathan Berg, and Donald Lien, “Measuring the Effect of Sexual Orientation on Income: Evidence of Discrimination,” Contemporary Economic Policy, 20, no. 4 (2002): 394-414, http://www.uwlax.edu/faculty/ giddings/ECO336/Week_6/Berg_Lien.pdf (accessed December 1, 2011). 3. Grant, Jamie M, Lisa A. Mottet, and Justin Tanis, “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey,” Executive Summary, February 3, 2011, http://thetaskforce.org/ reports_and_research/ntds (accessed December 1, 2011). 4. The Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, http://www.yogyakartaprinciples.org/principles_en.htm (accessed December 1, 2011). These principles were generated at a summit of international human rights experts in 2006 to outline a set of international definitions related to sexual orientation and gender identity for use in international law. 5. Definition of sexual orientation 2011, Laws of Minnesota, 2011: § 363A.03, Subd. 44. 6. Albelda, Randy, M.V. Lee Badget, Alyssa Schneebaum, and Gary J. Gates, “Poverty in the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community,” Williams Institute at UCLA Law, March 2009, http://williamsinstitute.law. ucla.edu/research/census-lgbt-demographics-studies/poverty-in-the-lesbian-gay-and-bisexual-community/ (accessed December 1, 2011). 7. Grant, Mottet, and Tanis.
Incentivizing Food Donation by Non-profits
Ben Simon, Fan Wu, John Ford, May Bayomi, and Eric Spears University of Maryland To encourage non-profit organizations to donate surplus food to agencies serving the hungry and homeless, states should establish an incentive for these non-profits by reimbursing them with 10 percent of the food’s worth. Doing so will result in waste reduction, environmental benefits, and a net spending decrease on social programs. Key Facts • In 2009, one in seven Americans Hunger does not exist because there is not lived in poverty enough food grown, but rather due to the • In 2009, approximately 68 billion misallocation of food. In 2009, one in seven pounds of food went to waste Americans lived in poverty, struggling to put • Over 75 percent of American colfood on the table.1 Meanwhile, the EPA estileges and universities (which are mates that in the same year 68 billion pounds non-profit organizations) do not of food went to waste.2 That is enough food have programs aimed at donating to fill the 90,000-seat Rose Bowl stadium surplus food every single day and amounts to about 40 percent of our gross domestic crop yield.3 Even given this astounding paradox, food recovery programs, which transport excess food no longer fit for sale but still fit for consumption to nearby homeless shelters, are still not widespread. Without any government intervention to offset the added labor, transportation, and materials costs, non-profits are usually unwilling to make donations because a food recovery program would be financially imprudent to institute. Despite the financial disadvantages, the University of Maryland, College Park, legally a non-profit, has been donating surplus food through an initiative called the Food Recovery Network (FRN). The student-run project has donated over 25,000 meals in its first 18 months. After discovering that over 75 percent of colleges and universities in America don’t have any such program in place, FRN organized as a non-profit to catalyze a national movement on college campuses and now has four chapters across America.4
Most colleges, universities, and other non-profit organizations do not participate in programs like the Food Recovery Network because there is no source of revenue to offset the expenses. Thus, while a business like Panera donating $10,000 worth of food is eligible for enhanced tax deductions of up to $15,000 times its marginal tax rate, non-profit organizations can’t write off donations made because they already don’t pay taxes. The state of Maryland should implement a pilot program incentivizing food donation by non-profits by providing a reimbursement for the costs incurred while donating food to certain non-profits addressing hunger and poverty within the state. This reimbursement would only need to be worth 10 percent of the food’s cost -- just enough to offset the expense of transporting the would-be-wasted food to those in need.
Most of the infrastructure is already in place to create this new incentive structure. Currently, for-profit businesses donating receive a “donation slip” from recipient organizations, fill out the value of the goods donated, and then turn in the slip to receive their tax break. Likewise, non-profits donating could get this same slip and fill out the amount in the same manner. But rather than sending in the amount to the IRS, non-profits who donated in Maryland can notify the State Department of Assessments and Taxation and receive a check in the mail equal to one-tenth of the costs of the food. In the Maryland State Senate’s Budget and Taxation Committee, there is currently sufficient resistance to any new subsidy. However, the amount of money that would be
• This program will provide a net revenue gain for the state. • For every $1.50 spent toward trays, 15 meals can be donated. • Currently, it’s financially imprudent for colleges, universities, and other non-profits to spend the resources necessary to donate without generating any revenue. • This strategy tips the scale for non-profits and offsets the costs of the program.
• Talking Points
given out is small and the benefit to the state is tremendous. For example, let’s say this new incentive encourages Goucher College in Towson, Maryland to donate 5,000 meals in a year that it otherwise would have composted or thrown out to a shelter in Baltimore. First, that is 5,000 fewer meals the recipient shelter has to buy for its residents, directly resulting in thousands of dollars in savings for the shelter and ultimately the state of Maryland which is a major funding source of many shelters. Second, it benefits the environment by helping to close the loop on food waste, which is America’s largest component of Municipal Solid Waste (i.e., garbage) and one of the main emitters of methane gas, which the EPA estimates is 21 times more harmful than carbon dioxide toward climate change.5 Third, it reduces the state’s costs for waste disposal. Every ton of garbage costs state and local governments money to pay for waste management workers and landfill tipping fees.
How much would the states be dishing out in this example? If the average meal’s cost (materials plus labor) was $4, then the 5,000 meals would have a cost of $20,000 and Goucher College would receive a $2,000 reimbursement. The value to the state of Maryland far exceeds the $2,000 spent. The Maryland General Assembly needs to act swiftly to fund a pilot of this program.
1. United States. U.S. Census Bureau. Number in Poverty and Poverty Rate: 1959 to 2009. U.S. Census Bureau. Web. <www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/incpovhlth/2009/pov09fig04.pdf>. 2. United States. Environmental Protection Agency. Basic Information about Food Waste. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 29 Dec. 2011. Web. 29 Jan. 2012. <http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/organics/food/fd-basic.htm>. 3. Bloom, Jonathan. “American Wasteland.” American Wasteland. Web. 29 Jan. 2012. <http://americanwastelandbook. com>. 4. “FRN at Brown University.” Food Recovery Network, 2011. Web. 20 Feb. 2012. < http://www.foodrecoverynetwork.org>. 5. United States. Environmental Protection Agency. Basic Information about Food Waste. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 29 Dec. 2011. Web. 29 Jan. 2012. <http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/organics/food/fd-basic.htm>.
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