Article: “Nickel and Dimed into Incarceration: Cash-Register Justice in the Criminal System”

Article: Laura A. Appleman, “Nickel and Dimed into Incarceration: Cash-Register Justice in the Criminal System,” 57 B.C. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2016).

Criminal justice debt has aggressively metastasized throughout the criminal system. A bewildering array of fees, fines, court costs, non-payment penalties, and high interest rates have turned criminal process into a booming revenue center for state courts and corrections. As criminal justice administrative costs have skyrocketed, the burden to fund the system has fallen largely on the system’s users, primarily poor or indigent, who often cannot pay their burden. Unpaid criminal justice debt often leads to actual incarceration or substantial punitive fines, which turns rapidly into “punishment.” Such punishment at the hands of a court, bureaucracy, or private entity compromises the Sixth Amendment right to have all punishment imposed by a jury. This Article explores the netherworld of criminal justice debt and analyzes implications for the Sixth Amendment jury trial right, offering a new way to attack the problem. The specter of “cash-register justice,” which overwhelmingly affects the poor and dispossessed, perpetuates hidden inequities within the criminal justice system. I offer solutions rooted in Sixth Amendment jurisprudence.


New Jotwell Review: “Recognizing Disgust, Repudiating Exile”

Here: Marc-Tizoc González, Recognizing Disgust, Repudiating Exile, JOTWELL (October 25, 2016) (reviewing Sara K. Rankin, The Influence of Exile, 76 Md. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2016), available at SSRN),

News Article: “The rent is too high in big cities. This mayor has a plan to fix it.”

News ARticle: Jonathan O’Connell, “The rent is too high in big cities. This mayor has a plan to fix it.,” Washington Post, Sept. 16, 2016.

Article: “Charting School Discipline”

Article: Susan DeJarnatt, et. al., “Charting School Discipline,” The Urban Lawyer (forthcoming).

Exclusionary school discipline can steer students away from educational opportunities and towards the juvenile and criminal justice systems. As many public school systems have turned to exclusionary school discipline practices over the past two decades, they have also increasingly adopted charter schools as alternatives to traditional public schools. This research is examines the student codes of conduct for the charter schools in the School District of Philadelphia to consider the role of their disciplinary practices and the potential effects on charter students.

We analyzed every disciplinary code provided to the Philadelphia School District by charter schools within Philadelphia during the 2014-2015 school year. Our goal was to examine the provisions relating to detention, suspension, and expulsion, along with other disciplinary responses, to determine what conduct can result in disciplinary consequences, what responses are available for various types of misbehavior, and whether the code language is clear or ambiguous or even accessible to students or potential students and their parents or caregivers. We conclude that too many of the codes are not well drafted, and too many follow models of punitive discipline that can be used to push out non-compliant or challenging students. Some codes grant almost complete discretion to school administrators to impose punitive discipline for any behavior the administrator deems problematic.

We hope that this work will spur future research on implementation of charter school discipline policies to illustrate how charter schools are using their codes. Further, we hope to see the charter sector develop model disciplinary codes that move away from a zero tolerance punitive model towards disciplinary systems based on restorative principles.


News Article: “‘This can’t happen by accident.’”

News Article: Emily Badger, “‘This can’t happen by accident.’“, Washington Post, May 2, 2016.


Article: “U.S. Workers Need Not Apply: Challenging Low-Wage Guest Worker Programs”

New Article: Jennifer J. Lee, “U.S. Workers Need Not Apply: Challenging Low-Wage Guest Worker Programs,” 28 Stan.L.& Pol’y Rev. (forthcoming).

With immigration reform stalled once again by United States v. Texas, many turn to the expansion of guest worker programs as a solution to our immigration woes. Low-wage foreign guest workers can fill “bad jobs” that no U.S. workers want. This article shows that guest worker programs are harmful to all low-wage workers by challenging this commonly accepted narrative and exploring how such programs create a cycle that fuels both U.S. worker shortages and the necessity for guest workers.

Scholars have amply criticized guest worker programs because they impair the rights of guest workers and contravene liberal egalitarian principles of social membership. These criticisms about how foreign workers are treated on U.S. soil, however, have been insufficient to tip the balance against these programs. What is missing from this debate is an attempt to understand why guest worker programs persist despite their many flaws. The legal framework broadly delegates power to employers to create U.S. worker shortages and the alternative of the highly productive and compliant guest worker. Cultural narratives operate to mask this reality by tying these phenomena to cultural explanations about low-wage workers. Together they create a climate that is favorable to guest worker programs.

This article’s close examination of these problems exposes why guest worker programs should not be a ready solution for immigration reform. It suggests a new approach to challenging such programs by broadening the lens to consider the plight of the U.S. worker. The U.S. worker can help shift the legal and social norms surrounding such programs by revealing how the fate of all low-wage workers is interconnected by government-enabled degradation of low-wage jobs. This approach suggests new advocacy strategies to eliminate guest worker programs in their current format in order to protect the dignity of all low-wage workers.

Article: “Earned Income Tax Credit: Path Dependence and the Blessing of Undertheorization”

Article: Michael B. Adamson, “Earned Income Tax Credit: Path Dependence and the Blessing of Undertheorization,” 65 Duke L.J. 1439 (2016).

Some commentators have lamented that the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is undertheorized—that its purpose is unclear—and that its design is therefore suboptimal. This Note explores the credit’s path-dependent past, which has resulted in a present-day EITC that manifests a diverse, uncoordinated assortment of policy purposes. Although the EITC’s ambiguity of purpose may yield policy inefficiencies, this Note argues that it also produces significant political benefits that would-be reformers who value the EITC’s many societal benefits should take into account before they attempt to enact any major overhaul.

Photography Book about Poverty in the United States: “American Realities”

Photography Book about Poverty in the United States: Joakim Eskildsen, American Realities (2014).  Sample of photos in this article.

New Articles/Essays: “Collected Essays on the Threat of Economic Inequality”

New Articles/Essays: “Collected Essays on the Threat of Economic Inequality”

Making the Dream Real
Richard R. Buery, Jr.
Insuring Civil Justice for All: Meeting the Challenges of Poverty

Honorable Fern Fisher

Income Inequality Hits Home

Steven W. Bender

Shoe Stories: Civil Rights and the Inequality of Place

Elise C. Boddie

The Price of Equal Justice: How Establishing a Right to Counsel for
People Who Face Losing Their Homes Helps Tackle Economic Inequality

Andrew Scherer

Criminal Records in the Post-“Great Society”

Michael Pinard

Shackles Beyond the Sentence: How Legal Financial Obligations Create a Permanent Underclass


Their Debt to Society

Erika L. Wood

The Overincarceration of America’s Poor: The Return of Debtor’s Prison

Reginald T. Shuford

Crime and Incarceration: A Future Fraught with Uncertainty

Ronald F. Day

Inequality and the Texas Photo ID Law

J. Gerald Hebert

Reproductive Rights and Women’s Economic Security:
Pieces of the Same Puzzle

Janet Crepps and Kelly Baden

Relative Care Within a Public Health Paradigm

Kele M. Stewart

Changing the School to Prison Pipeline:
Integrating Trauma Informed Care in the New York City School System

Ellen Yaroshefsky and Anna Shwedel

Ending Child Poverty in New York

Melanie Hartzog and Patti Banghart

Building a City of Equal Opportunity

Jennifer Jones Austin

Remarks: The New York City Human Resources Administration’s Role in
Fighting Poverty and Income Inequality and Preventing Homelessness

Steven Banks

Personal Reaction to “The New Trail of Tears”

the-new-trail-of-tears-how-washington-is-destroying-american-indians-307x460I decided to briefly respond to Naomi Schaefer Riley’s The New Trail of Tears (2016).  I had thought about doing a (scathing) book review on it, but the guru of all things Indian law, Matthew Fletcher, did a six part take down of the book on The Turtle Talk Blog that says much of what I would say.  As Fletcher writes, “DO NOT READ THIS BOOK if you are a supporter of tribal interests and the future of Indian people, unless you’re interested in learning about a game plan to send 21st century Indian people on a new trail of tears.”  He goes on:

The trap for readers is that TNToT seems like a reform minded book with deep sympathy for Indian people, with the federal government as the bad guy. It’s not. At best, TNToT is paternalism, termination era- and allotment era-style liberalism. NSR characterizes the Indians that live in Indian country as poor, alcoholic, suicidal rapists. Or really, really sad people who are always slowly shaking their heads (classic Vanishing Indian stuff). 

At worst, this is paid propaganda for conservative organizations that tend to support the view that the federal government is a terrible thing. For NSR, Indians are either victims or perpetrators, and need to be saved or punished. Finally, and in my view most importantly, TNToT throughout ignores tribal and Indian property rights, which is ironic given that NSR will frequently refer to property rights as a justification for her conclusions.

It is an incredibly bad book.  It is racist, it’s level of analysis is quite shallow, and it is something that I am surprised got published.  There are scholars who share some of the author’s views regarding the causes of the problems on Indian reservations but their work tends to be less problematic and better reasoned.  I couldn’t help but think as I read the book that if Donald Trump becomes President, the author is someone he might call to set Indian policy.  And for people of this mindset, setting Indian policy means embracing once again allotment and termination.  In other words, the book is filled with recommendations that involve stepping away from self-determination in favor of some of the worst moments in a history filled with bad moments in the relationship between Washington and Indian nations.  Naomi Schaefer Riley’s ultimate goal seems to be similar to that of Andrew Jackson’s, to have Indians go away or melt into the larger American society.  As I said, it is not a good book.