Category Archives: The Justice System

Addressing Human Trafficking in North Carolina’s Schools Through Preventative Training

27582913190_033f837728_zGiven the nature of modern human trafficking of school-age individuals, educators and school employees are uniquely “positioned to recognize changes in behavior and appearance that may indicate human trafficking involvement”. In North Carolina, school officials are mandated to report potential cases of sexual abuse and exploitation, and to instruct students on human trafficking. However, despite this requirement, the State of North Carolina does not mandate the training of school officials on how to prevent, identify, report, or address potential human trafficking of school-age children.

The trafficking of children is a harsh reality in North Carolina and throughout the U.S. An estimated 100,000 children are traded for sex in the U.S. each year. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that over 250,000 children ages 10-17 are exploited through commercial sex in the U.S. annually. For girls, the average entry age is between 12-14, and for boys, the entry age is 11-13. Continue reading

Our Winter 2015 Print Journal is Here!

Our new print edition is out! After months of hard work, the Sanford Journal of Public Policy is proud to announce that our Winter 2015 print journal is ready to go, and we couldn’t be more proud of it.

Sanford Journal Spring 2015 Print Journal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Shooting for More Regulations in Gun Control

By: Rachel Leven

Last fall I fell into a heated discussion with a classmate from Benin. He did not understand what he perceived as America’s obsession with gun ownership and gun laws. Well, perhaps he’ll be glad to know as he returns to campus that he is also returning to a country where the rate of civilian gun possession is over 60 times higher than Benin’s.

At the time, I loosely argued that lax gun laws were an infringement on my right not to own a gun. Now, another incident at a movie theatre demonstrates my point. Scott A. Smith, brought a loaded 9 mm semiautomatic handgun, two loaded magazine clips and three knives to a showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Smith argued in court that the weapons were for protection of himself and others. How many other people brought their own guns to theatres and weren’t caught? Suddenly going to the theatre means the possibility of crossfire. If five people might walk into a theatre carrying a gun, well that basically means I won’t feel safe until I go out and get a gun myself. When someone in the theatre starts talking and conflict escalates, maybe a vest and a helmet would be even better than having my own gun.

Dramatics aside, it is very difficult to find sound non-partisan research about gun control. Especially, anything related to the second amendment and the relation between tyranny and gun ownership (that’s a hint for any Political Science PhD candidates out there). What research is available can be contradictory. The conservative CATO institute recently released a report on the importance of civilian gun ownership in stopping crime. Yet other research shows criminals are rarely shot during their crime, but rather are shot as victims during a separate incident. Further, the majority of self-defense claims go hand in hand with escalating conflict, my nightmare scenario described above.

Interestingly, while gun ownership in the US is sky high, our laws may not be as far from others as we think. The choice is not one between a total free market and absolute restriction. Of course there are countries like Japan, where gun restrictions are extreme and gun violence is minuscule, and countries like Switzerland, where possession of an assault rifle in one’s home is required of all young men and gun homicide rates are still low. The question is more one of licensing and appropriate forms of possession. Even Governor Romney supported more restrictions and qualifications of the second amendment right. For the record, the Swiss themselves are far from unified in their support of a gun free-for-all.

Our inability as a country to accept any increase in gun control as legitimate could actually be increasing crime in other areas besides simple homicide. Due to lax laws and enforcement in the US, the Mexican-US drug trade has become the Mexican-US drug and arms trade. Leaving aside obvious mishaps like Fast and Furious, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, more than 68,000 firearms moved from the US to Mexico between 2007 and 2011.

In the wake of this summers shootings, three states are considering stricter gun laws. With state legislators on break for the summer it is unlikely anything concrete will happen until the fall. However, small changes in three liberal states do not add up to a national policy. On gun control, Obama has been just uncommitted enough to enliven right wing conspiracies theorists and left wing extremists alike.  Romney has reversed the position he had as Governor of Massachusetts and said a flat out “No” to new gun control legislation. Sadly, with such a consensus for inaction, and no alternative answer besides new laws coming to the national stage, it’s unlikely that any major changes will be seen in national gun possession or in gun related violence.

Barofsky Walks Into a TARP

By: Zarak Khan

 

Neil Barofsky, the former Special Inspector General for TARP and perpetual thorn in Tim Geithner’s side, recently sat down for an interview with the NY Times to promote his book “Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street.”  The critical tone he takes here should be no huge surprise to anyone who watched or read about the Congressional hearings at which he skewered the efforts of the Treasury to administer TARP.

With events like the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s recent decision not to allow mortgage modification and the LIBOR rate-setting scandal still in the headlines, it is difficult to dispute Barofsky’s sentiment that more could be done to create smart regulations. More pointedly, Barofsky contends that the incentive structure for regulators needs to be overhauled to promote accurate and aggressive policing of the financial industry.

While much of that may be true, the narrative of his book still contains inconsistencies that undermine his arguments. In a review of his book, Jackie Calmes points out:

He refers throughout to the $700 billion bailout, never clarifying that less than $300 billion of that amount went out the door by the time TARP expired; that not a penny went to big banks during the Obama administration; and that those banks repaid taxpayers with interest.

As ugly and flawed as the rescue process was, and as galling as Wall Street’s revived bravado and bonuses can be to most Americans, the fact remains that an economic collapse was averted, and that Main Street is recovering: slowly, but typically so for recessions brought on by credit crises.

Perhaps Barofsky represents the flip side of the “things could be worse” argument, and for once, that argument is equally difficult to make. Or, at least, equally difficult to hear.

Texaco’s Legacy in Ecuador

Image via Guillermo Granja/Reuters

 

By Kris FitzPatrick, Staff Editor

Many of us know the stories of oil-rich developing countries sacrificing environmental health for oil revenues. The term “resource curse” was coined because these countries paradoxically suffer from economic stagnation and corruption due, at least in part, to the effects of abundant oil, gas, or mineral resources.

A recent piece in the New Yorker by Patrick Radden Keefe tells the winding narrative of an eighteen-year-long case against Texaco (now Chevron) brought by a group of Ecuadoreans. The group claims Texaco polluted parts of the Oriente region during the twenty-three years that Texaco and other companies conducted drilling operations in the area. In February 2011, a local Ecuadorean judge found for the plaintiffs and ordered Chevron to pay $18 billion, the largest judgment ever in an environmental case. Chevron no longer has assets in Ecuador and has refused to pay.

The Ecuador case highlights the question of how multinational oil companies should be held accountable for past environmental damage. Keefe’s piece may leave the reader exhausted and frustrated, and perhaps questioning whether we should all complain so much about four-dollar gasoline.

Aging Prisoners: A Strain on Public Facilities and a Threat to Private Interests

Image via Human Rights Watch

 

By Daniel Jasper, Staff Editor

In a newly released report, Human Rights Watch highlights the growing number of elderly inmates within the U.S. prison system.  The report found that the prison population of those aged 65 years and over grew by 65 percent between 2007 and 2010, while the prison population of those aged 55 years and over grew by 285 percent between 1995 and 2010. It should come as no surprise that prison facilities where not built with geriatric care in mind, and the growing number of elderly prisoners may lack sufficient medial attention. On top of that, the costly measures taken to provide care for prisoners that require medical attention are undoubtedly putting a strain on state and federal budgets.

The study, however, is far from shocking, as it only illustrates an overall trend found within the U.S. prison system.  More people are being put in jail, longer sentences are being given, and harsher penalties are being doled out for previously minor offenses. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of total U.S. prisoners has increased from 773,919 in 1990 to 1,613,740 in 2009, an increase of 108%.  This puts the U.S. at number one in the world for most prisoners incarcerated.

This growing number of prisoners is not only putting a financial strain on the U.S. budget, but it is also alarming human rights activists and calling into question the causes of these startling increases. Many point to the privatized prison system as a driving cause of these disturbing trends. A report put out last November by Public Campaign demonstrates how, like every other business, it is in the interest of these corporations to ensure repeat or perpetual customers, and the for-profit prison industry does so by lobbying for longer sentences and increased penalties for lesser crimes. Now that many of their patrons are aging, it should be of particular interest to the public how the for-profit prison model will adapt to find new patrons. The new model won’t just cost money; it might cost someone you know 10 to 15 years.