Guns and America

What Coronavirus Means For Domestic Violence Cases

As health officials struggle to suppress the spread of COVID-19, many entangled in the U.S. court system, including domestic violence accusers and those with pending court hearings, are left with the difficult question of what comes next.

Several agencies have opted to incorporate teleconferencing and other remote workarounds to better support those in need, but for many victims of domestic violence, time in isolation can compound the dangers of living with an abuser.

“People are urged to stay home and to practice social distancing to protect themselves and others from being exposed to COVID-19. Unfortunately, home is not a safe place for many women,” said Susan B. Sorenson, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the Ortner Center on Violence & Abuse.

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Philadelphia Inquirer

To flatten the curve, Philadelphia should release all nonviolent prisoners now

As the coronavirus crisis unfolds, we are being warned that our jails will constitute one of the epicenters of the pandemic, given their crowded, unsanitary conditions, and the lack of measures to protect the health of inmates. We’ve seen this before though — a humanitarian crisis unleashed on our incarcerated population, triggered by a catastrophe.

Read more from associate professor and Calvin Bland Faculty fellow Toorjo Ghose’s op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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As Jobless Claims Surge by 3 Million, Unemployment May Soon Be Highest Since Financial Crisis

U.S. jobless claims hit record levels on Thursday as economists warned that the unemployment rate could reach its highest levels since the financial crisis amid the COVID-19 pandemic. New data released by the Department of Labor this morning revealed that 3.3 million initial claims for unemployment benefits were made in the week ending March 21.

The Labor Department said the spike in jobless claims was “the highest level of seasonally adjusted initial claims” in history, up from a previous high of 695,000 in 1982.

Speaking to Newsweek about the spike in jobless claims last week, Ioana Marinescu, an assistant professor of economics at SP2, said: “Not all of these new unemployment claims are simple layoffs. Some are temporary layoffs and furloughs.”

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The Guardian

One California mayor has tried universal basic income. His advice for Trump: ‘Think big’

As the Trump administration and lawmakers in Washington debate cash payments to support Americans during the coronavirus crisis, the mayor of one California city that has experimented with universal basic income has advice.

Early findings from Stockton, California, which launched a basic income experiment last year, may offer American policymakers some reassurance – and a few notes of caution.

Amy Castro Baker, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the other lead researcher on the project, shares more on the project’s findings.

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The Philadelphia Inquirer

Each night, Philly jails release scores of inmates without returning their IDs, cash or phones

According to data obtained and analyzed by The Philadelphia Inquirer, 73% of all inmates released from Philadelphia jails from April 2017 to April 2018 — more than 16,000 prisoners — were discharged after the cashier’s offices had closed, leaving them without any identification, cash, phone or other possessions for hours or even days. The offices are closed on weekends.

Ruth Shefner, SP2 alum and director of the School’s Goldring Reentry Initiative, weighs in on the discharge procedure for inmates.

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New York Post

Cuomo needs to veto this bill that puts kids at risk

Currently, New York state requires “some credible evidence” of maltreatment, but if Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs the bill, workers would have to find a “preponderance of evidence” before bringing a case to court.

Sen. Velmanette Montgomery claims “parents are charged with neglect essentially because the family is in poverty” and we need to provide “support to families in crisis” instead of “punishing them for being poor.”

But neglect is often a sign that something else is awry, says Richard Gelles, the former head of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice. There are dysfunctions in the family that come to public attention,” but they sometimes stop short of abuse.


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Making Gun Violence A “Mental Health” Issue Will Only Cause More Harm, Experts Say

In the wake of the El Paso and Dayton shootings, Susan B. Sorenson of the School of Social Policy & Practice says, “There’s been so much talk, there’s been so much conversation. At some point, there’s enough talking and our elected officials need to take action.”

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The New York Times

Why Trump’s Cruelty Doesn’t Deter Migrants

In a recent op-ed, Fernando Chang-Muy, lecturer at SP2 and Penn Law, recalls discussions he and a Penn Law student had with Hondurans this summer regarding harsh U.S. asylum policies.

“We aimed not to influence decisions about fleeing but rather to inform potential asylum seekers of the legal obstacles they would face, and the rights to which they are entitled, if they chose to make the trip north.”

Chang-Muy is also a former legal officer for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

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The Outline

Dear God, Let us Pray on Whether to Tax Churches

Churches have been exempt from paying property taxes since the colonial days, a tradition inspired by medieval English law. In 1864, U.S. churches were officially lumped in with “charitable” organizations, exempting them from income tax as well. The Internal Revenue Service grants all churches 501(c)(3) status, like other U.S. nonprofits. In addition to property and income tax exemptions, taxpayers subsidize clergy housing and perks like free parking.

There have been a few voices of protest about the exemptions over the years, but nothing major. According to Ram Cnaan, the director of the Program for Religion and Social Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice, politicians never stand on a church-taxing pedestal for long.

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SP2 News

Jennifer Prah Ruger

Faculty & Research

Health Equity in a Time of Global Crisis

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Faculty & Research

New Report: Impact of COVID-19 on Homelessness

The coronavirus pandemic is likely to kill more than 3,400 people experiencing homelessness across the United States, according to new...

Headshot of Johanna Greeson

Faculty & Research

SP2 Associate Professor Testifies at City Council Hearing on Missing and Exploited Children

In a moving testimonial, Johanna Greeson, PhD, spoke before the Philadelphia City Council’s Children and Youth Committee during their recent...

Ben Jealous

Faculty & Research

Q&A with Ben Jealous, former NAACP head turned tech investor

Ben Jealous has accomplished a great deal in his 47 years. The former—and youngest ever—head of the NAACP managed the Mississippi’s Jackson...

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