Category Archives: Measuring Poverty

Confronting Poverty: Poverty Risk Calculator

Confronting Poverty: Poverty Risk Calculator worth checking out and perhaps sharing with students.

Article: Privacy, Poverty and Big Data: A Matrix of Vulnerabilities for Poor Americans

Article: Mary Madden, et al., Privacy, Poverty and Big Data: A Matrix of Vulnerabilities for Poor Americans, Washington L. Rev. (forthcoming 2017).

This Article examines the matrix of vulnerabilities that low-income people face as a result of the collection and aggregation of big data and the application of predictive analytics. On the one hand, big data systems could reverse growing economic inequality by expanding access to opportunities for low-income people. On the other hand, big data could widen economic gaps by making it possible to prey on low-income people or to exclude them from opportunities due to biases that get entrenched in algorithmic decision-making tools. New kinds of “networked privacy” harms, in which users are simultaneously held liable for their own behavior and the actions of those in their networks, may have particularly negative impacts on the poor. This Article reports on original empirical findings from a large, nationally-representative telephone survey with an oversample of low-income American adults and highlights how these patterns make particular groups of low-status internet users uniquely vulnerable to various forms of surveillance and networked privacy-related problems. In particular, a greater reliance on mobile connectivity, combined with lower usage of privacy-enhancing strategies may contribute to various privacy and security-related harms. The article then discusses three scenarios in which big data – including data gathered from social media inputs – is being aggregated to make predictions about individual behavior: employment screening, access to higher education, and predictive policing. Analysis of the legal frameworks surrounding these case studies reveals a lack of legal protections to counter digital discrimination against low-income people. In light of these legal gaps, the Article assesses leading proposals for enhancing digital privacy through the lens of class vulnerability, including comprehensive consumer privacy legislation, digital literacy, notice and choice regimes, and due process approaches. As policymakers consider reforms, the article urges greater attention to impacts on low-income persons and communities.

Article: “Hun, I Want You for Dessert”: Why Eliminating the Sub-Minimum Wage for Restaurant Servers Will Empower Women

Suzanne Specker, “Hun, I Want You for Dessert”: Why Eliminating the Sub-Minimum Wage for Restaurant Servers Will Empower Women, 19 U. Pa. J.L. & Soc. Change 335 (2017).

 

New Article: “Dangerous Defendants”

Sandra G. Mayson, Dangerous Defendants, University of Pennsylvania Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 16-30 (2016).

Bail reform is underway — but it is proceeding on shaky ground. The reform model, which deploys actuarial risk assessment to identify “high-risk” defendants, assumes that the state has the prerogative to detain or control dangerous defendants. This assumption is not new. But it is anomalous. In general, we do not permit the state to restrain sane, responsible adults solely to stop them from committing hypothetical future crimes, even those who are high-risk. The reform movement’s focus on danger thus crystallizes a fundamental question about pretrial policy: What justifies the state in restraining defendants for dangerousness before trial if we would prohibit the same restraint for equally dangerous members of the public? Although there is an extensive literature on preventive detention, neither the Supreme Court nor prior scholarship has focused on this comparative question. This Article endeavors to answer it. It makes the first effort to articulate and evaluate potential justifications for subjecting defendants to restraint that we would forbid for non-defendants who pose an equal risk. The Article explores doctrinal, deontological and instrumentalist justifications, but ultimately rejects them. It contends that pretrial restraint for dangerousness can only be justified at the risk threshold where we would authorize equivalent restraint of a member of the population at large. Communities, policymakers and courts should therefore determine what they believe this threshold to be, then ensure that pretrial risk assessment and management are tailored to it.

Article: Bail Nullification

Article: Jocelyn Simonson, Bail Nullification, 115 Mich. L. Rev. 585 (2017).

This Article explores the possibility of community nullification beyond the jury by analyzing the growing and unstudied phenomenon of community bail funds, which post bail for strangers based on broader beliefs regarding the overuse of pretrial detention. When a community bail fund posts bail, it can serve the function of nullifying a judge’s determination that a certain amount of the defendant’s personal or family money was necessary to ensure public safety and prevent flight. This growing practice—what this Article calls “bail nullification”—is powerful because it exposes publicly what many within the system already know to be true: that although bail is ostensibly a regulatory pretrial procedure, for indigent defendants it often serves the function that a real trial might, producing guilty pleas and longer sentences when an individual cannot afford to pay their bail. By examining the ways in which community bail funds serve the functions that a nullifying jury might—allowing popular participation in an individual case to facilitate larger resistance to the policies and practices of state actors—this Article argues that community bail funds have the potential to change how local criminal justice systems operate on the ground, shifting and shaping political and constitutional understandings of the institution of money bail. Community bail funds give a voice to populations who rarely have a say in how criminal justice is administered, especially poor people of color. And the study of bail funds helps point toward other ways in which bottom-up public participation can help create a criminal justice system that is truly responsive to the communities that it is ultimately supposed to serve.

News Article: How to ensure everyone a guaranteed basic income

News Article: Steven Pearlstein, How to ensure everyone a guaranteed basic income, Washington Post (Mar. 24, 2017).

News Article: Trump wants to cut off poor people’s legal lifeline

News Article: Bryce Covert, Trump wants to cut off poor people’s legal lifeline, Think Progress (Apr. 6, 2017).

News Article: The poor ‘just don’t want health care’: Republican congressman faces backlash over comments

News Article: Kristine Phillips, The poor ‘just don’t want health care’: Republican congressman faces backlash over comments, Washington Post (Mar. 9, 2017).

Article: Private Enforcement of the Affordable Care Act: Toward an “Implied Warranty of Legality” in Health Insurance

Article: Christine H. Monahan, Private Enforcement of the Affordable Care Act: Toward an “Implied Warranty of Legality” in Health Insurance, 126 Yale L. Rev. 908 (2017).

For decades, the individual health insurance market failed to provide consumers adequate or affordable health coverage. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) sought to change this state of affairs, establishing a new Patient’s Bill of Rights and instituting other protections that require insurers to make comprehensive coverage readily accessible. However, recent reports have begun to document health plans’ violations of the ACA, such as their failure to pay consumers their required refunds or the illegal imposition of waiting periods for transplant services. Although the ACA preserves a role for states in implementing and enforcing the law, state remedies are often lacking. For instance, many state consumer protection laws do not apply to insurance, while traditional breach of contract claims only provide for recourse when a health insurance policy expressly incorporates ACA provisions. As a result, a critical gap in the law has come to light: the absence of a private right of action. This Note proposes that state courts can address this gap by finding that the sale of individual health insurance comes with an implicit and legally enforceable promise that the policy and insurer administering it are in full compliance with the ACA. In other words, this Note urges courts to establish an “implied warranty of legality” in the context of individual health insurance. Modeled on the implied warranty of habitability, this approach would correct for power imbalances within this market. It would also promote individual rights by empowering consumers to sue when they have been wronged and foster civic engagement by enabling consumers to play an active role in the enforcement of public law. The implied warranty of legality would also have redistributive effects, allowing for the costs of noncompliance to be shared more evenly across the market. Looking beyond the ACA, the implied warranty of legality should also be applied in other regulated markets with similar dynamics, or, if the ACA is scaled back or repealed, to enforce state health insurance rules that seek to protect consumers from unlawful insurer practices.

News Article: Immigrants are going hungry so Trump won’t deport them

News Article: Caitlin Dewey, Immigrants are going hungry so Trump won’t deport them, Washington Post (Mar. 16, 2017).