Restoring the Right to Vote is a Pathway to Better Health – a Look at Felon Re-enfranchisement and the 2020 Election

Law & Policy InsightsCivic Engagement and VotingMechanisms for Advancing Public Health

September 23, 2020
by Dawn Hunter

Across the U.S., an estimated 6.1 million Americans are denied the right to vote due to disenfranchisement laws. As the 2020 General Election approaches, one of the issues getting attention is the restoration of voting rights to people convicted of felonies. Research shows that restoration of civil rights helps support a transition back into the community and that civic participation is linked to lower recidivism rates among those previously incarcerated. While some states are following a recent trend to restore voting rights, others are continuing efforts to disenfranchise voters.   

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Q&A: Using SNAP to Address Food Insecurity during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Law & Policy InsightsFood and Housing Insecurity MeasuresFood Security

September 10, 2020
by Mathew R. Swinburne

In this Q&A, the Network’s Mathew Swinburne discusses some of the key elements in the chapter he authored for the recently released report, Assessing Legal Responses to COVID-19, in which he examines how policies are being changed and leveraged to help address the devastating food insecurity associated with the pandemic.

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Struggling in the Shadows: The Mental Anguish of Educational Fraud

Law & Policy InsightsMechanisms for Advancing Health EquityMental Health and Well-Being

September 10, 2020
by April Shaw

Although there has been some attention to the mental health impacts of student loan debt, little attention has been directed towards the harm experienced by those with student loan debt who have been defrauded by for-profit colleges. These individuals have massive debt after pursuing an education that does not afford any of the opportunities typically associated with higher education. The harm they experience is not merely economic—it’s a social harm with deeply damaging impacts on mental health.

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The CDC’s Eviction Moratorium Order Is Unprecedented: What Does It Mean for Tenants and Landlords?

Law & Policy InsightsFood and Housing Insecurity Measures

September 10, 2020
by Kerri McGowan Lowrey

Millions of Americans are at risk of losing their homes in the wake of the pandemic and renters are particularly vulnerable as they are less likely to have the resources to weather financial losses. On September 1, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an unprecedented Agency Order to temporarily halt residential evictions until December 31, 2020. While on its face, the Order is a “win” for public health, legal challenges on statutory and constitutional grounds are almost certain, and implementation will likely present difficulties.

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Protecting the Nation’s Future: COVID-19’s Mental Health Effects on America’s Youth

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19COVID-19 and Health EquityMental Health and Well-Being

September 4, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic affects not only people’s physical but also mental health. Adolescents are at a particularly high risk of experiencing negative mental health effects from the pandemic and related social distancing measures. Impacts are likely to have lasting effects on the nation’s youth for years to come. Taking steps to implement and maintain mental health resources now may be the key to diminishing negative mental health outcomes.

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Public Health Decision-making in the COVID-19 Era: Act, but be Cautious

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19Public Health Advocacy and Decision-Making

August 26, 2020
by Peter D. Jacobson

By temperament, I’m generally an aggressive interpreter of state public health codes. In normal times, I argue for an expansive interpretation of health officers’ authority to protect the public’s health. But these are not normal times. A non-trivial portion of the public believes the coronavirus is a hoax and mask-wearing mandates are tyrannical. One result of this resistance is that public health officials have been attacked and threatened for issuing or enforcing COVID-19 mask-wearing or stay-at-home orders. Health officers cannot ignore the potential threats to their personal safety. Depending on the local political environment, some caution is called for—caution, not acquiescence.

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Addressing Native American Food Insecurity During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Older Americans Act Title VI Programs

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19COVID-19 and Health EquityTribal Health

August 24, 2020
by Mathew R. Swinburne

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased food insecurity across the country and Native American communities are acutely impacted because of poverty and loss of traditional food systems and practices (hunting, gathering, and cultivating culturally relevant and locally available foods). The scope of Native American food insecurity prior to COVID-19, while difficult to quantify, is an important baseline for understanding the challenge facing this community, the resources that are needed and whether current governmental programs are adequately meeting those needs.

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Structural Racism May Negatively Impact COVID-19 Vaccination Rates among Black Americans

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19 and Health EquityMechanisms for Advancing Public Health

August 20, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the structural inequalities that Black Americans experience in this country. Black people are more likely to have pre-existing conditions that lead to COVID-19 susceptibility and are more likely to be uninsured or have inadequate insurance coverage compared to white people. These structural inequalities, combined with incidences of medical racism, including reports of Black people being turned away from hospitals, have contributed to the shockingly high rates at which Black people have died from COVID-19.

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