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Policy Updates from the Rutgers Social Work Policy Network
April 22, 2021

Today, the Social Work Policy Network offers a glimpse of their weekly e-updates.
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ACTION OPPORTUNITY
Demand the House and Senate hold hearings to LET US BREATHE!
"The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (JPA) recently passed the House and is now headed to the Senate. M4BL cannot support JPA. The bill is fundamentally flawed. There can be no justice in policing -- a system born of white supremacy and slave patrols. What we need is bold reimagining of community safety. We need justice for our people, NOT in policing...

JPA invests nearly $1 billion into incrementalist reforms that fail time and time again instead of boldly reimagining who and what really keeps us safe. It wasn’t a no-knock warrant that killed Breonna Taylor. It was the war on drugs and the political decision to criminalize Black and Brown communities instead of providing the resources they need to thrive. More body cameras wouldn’t have saved George Floyd. The cops that killed him were wearing body cameras.
The JPA is not the solution we’ve demanded -- the BREATHE Act is. Email key elected officials and DEMAND they hold a hearing on the BREATHE Act today."
Demand your representatives to support the Breathe Act today!

NATIONAL UPDATES
Why Chauvin’s conviction matters, Vox: 
"The former Minneapolis police officer was found guilty of all three charges — second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. That’s rare in a system where it’s uncommon to prosecute police for killing someone, let alone convict them. For example, only seven police officers have been convicted of murder for police shootings since 2005. The law favors police — giving them latitude to use force — plus, Americans, including jurors, tend to trust police officers."

Few Charges, Fewer Convictions: The Chauvin Trial and the History of Police Violence, NY Times: "The Times reviewed dozens of...cases in which encounters between Black people and police ended fatally. Though many cases prompted public outrage, that did not always translate to criminal indictments. In some cases, police officers were shown to have responded lawfully. In others, charges were dropped or plea agreements were reached. Some have resulted in civil settlements. But very few have resulted in convictions at trial."

More Housing Vouchers - Most Important Step to Help More People Afford Stable Homes, CBPP: "Housing vouchers are highly effective at reducing homelessness, housing instability, and overcrowding and at improving other outcomes for families and children, rigorous research shows. They are crucial to giving people with low incomes greater choice about where they live and to ensure that initiatives to build or rehabilitate housing reach those who most need help."

LOCAL & REGIONAL UPDATES
After months of emotional testimony from women, new laws expand rape victims’ rights, NJ.com: "Sexual assault victims would be entitled to copies of police reports and be notified when prosecutors are filing charges against their assailants under a package of bills Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law Monday."

Student debt crisis harms women, people of color and the economy. Let's fix it., NorthJersey.com: "The burden of student loans is not only an economic problem but also a social and racial justice issue. Unjust systems have hindered women’s and people of color’s ability to effectively pay back student loans due to racial and gender pay disparities, the amount and types of loans people take out, and an overrepresentation of women and racial minorities in lower-paying jobs that are historically undervalued."

COVID-19
Blueprint to Secure a Just Recovery, NJ Policy Perspective: "...as we begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and recession, New Jersey is at a transitional moment — a moment of sterling opportunity to build a better future for all residents. Returning to the economy we had before the pandemic is not an option. To move forward, we must affirm our commitment to justice and prosperity for all, and implement policies that ensure all New Jerseyans can thrive."

Rare trial underway to determine if N.J. jail did enough to protect inmates from COVID, NJ.com: "A rare trial during the coronavirus pandemic got underway Tuesday after a group of inmates at the Cumberland County Jail filed a lawsuit alleging they have been held under inadequate conditions at the facility amid the health crisis, putting them at risk to the deadly effects of the virus."

UPCOMING EVENTS
The Sacrifice Zone Film Screening
hosted in partnership with Rutgers School of Social Work (SSW), School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA), and the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Center (TRHT).
April 22 (4:30 PM - 6:00 PM EST via Zoom)
Free. Registration Required.
“Set in the Ironbound District of Newark, New Jersey, The Sacrifice Zone is a documentary film that follows Honduran-American resident Maria Lopez-Nuñez as she leads a group of environmental justice fighters determined to break the cycle of poor communities of color serving as dumping grounds for our consumer society. After the screening, environmental justice organization representatives and activists will meet with you in breakout rooms to discuss featured topics, highlights from the film, and the most pressing issues they are addressing. Social work students are eligible to receive two hours of field education credit with permission from their field instructor.”

Does Increased K-12 Funding Improve Student Learning
& Narrow Achievement Gaps?

New Evidence from California’s Local Control Funding Formula
April 22 (5:00 PM EST via Zoom)
Free. Registration Required.
"Dr. Rucker C. Johnson, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy in the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and faculty research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, is an acclaimed labor economist who specializes in the economics of education. He is the author of Children of the Dream: Why School Integration Works. Drawing on his research on the role of poverty and inequality in affecting life chances, Dr. Johnson will discuss new evidence that indicates that infusing additional funding into lower-income school districts leads to significant narrowing of average achievement gaps by race/ethnicity and poverty status." Learn more about Coumbia's social work lecture series here.

Indigenous Environmental Justice, Knowledge and Law
with Deborah McGregor
April 26 (12:15 - 1:15 PM EST via Zoom)

Free. Registration Required.
"McGregor has been at the forefront of Indigenous environmental justice and Indigenous research theory and practice. Her research focuses on Indigenous knowledge systems and their various applications in diverse contexts, including environmental and water governance, environmental justice, health and environment, climate change and Indigenous legal traditions. She remains actively involved in a variety of Indigenous communities, serving as an adviser and continuing to engage in community-based research and initiatives."

2021 Conference on Environmental Justice with Adelphi University and the Institute for Social Work and Environmental Justice.
April 28 (9AM - 4PM EST via Zoom)
Free for Current Students. Fee for Continuing Education Credits.
Registration Required.
“Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race, color, or national origin. The populations social workers aim to serve are often the most vulnerable and face the worst effects of natural disasters and environmental degradation, requiring meaningful interventions at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels of practice and scholarship.”

Progress 2021: Meeting the Moment
April 29 (12:00 PM EST via Zoom)
Free. Registration Required.
Join NJPP for the first session of our Progress 2021 virtual speaker series as we explore ways to advance racial equity in the nation's pandemic response. This virtual discussion, moderated by NJPP President Brandon McKoy, will feature Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), and Governor Phil Murphy.
Don't miss out on this important discussion!

Learning from the Past: Environmental Justice & Transportation Corridor Planning
May 5 (6:00-7:30 PM EST* via Zoom)
*note: hosted in CST 
Pay What You Can. Registration Required.
"Join the Bell Museum for a conversation about how people are responding to social and environmental justice questions raised by freeway alignment projects in the past. Freeways like I-94 and I-35 displaced people, divided communities, and had environmental consequences, which continue to affect the natural environment and the health of those living near them. In this discussion, A Public History of 35W moderates a conversation about how people in the Rondo neighborhood of St. Paul are responding to social and environmental justice questions raised by freeway alignment projects in the past."

 

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