Lessons from Los Angeles: Sanitation as Health Justice for People Experiencing Homelessness

Law & Policy InsightsHealthy and Affordable Housing

June 7, 2018
by James G. Hodge, Jr.

The U.S. is experiencing its worst outbreak of hepatitis A in over 20 years. The outbreak has primarily affected people experiencing homelessness (PEH) due to their lack of access to sanitation and hygiene facilities. In Los Angeles alone, one study found only nine public toilets for every 1,777 PEH. As a result, the city has initiated community and local government interventions designed to address this shortfall.

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Cooperative Extension as a Partner in Creating Healthy Communities

Law & Policy InsightsCommunity Health Needs Assessments

June 6, 2018
by Jill Krueger

Extension programs connect land grant universities and the larger public, bringing academic research to communities that can apply it. Programming at the recently held National Health Outreach Conference, sponsored by the Cooperative Extension System, focused on engaging in a culture of health and highlighted ways in which Extension programs are collaborating with others to advance community health.

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Tax Incentives and Public Health: Injury Prevention on the Road, on the Water, and at Home

Law & Policy InsightsInjury Prevention and SafetyMechanisms for Advancing Public Health

May 23, 2018
by Kathleen Hoke and Kerri McGowan Lowrey

Tax exemptions can be used effectively to encourage the purchase of consumer goods that support public health and safety by reducing the rate of injury or death. A few states have passed sales tax exemptions that fit the bill for public health, including exemptions for child car seats, bicycle helmets, and fire-safety equipment for homes. But these types of tax exemptions are often underutilized.

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Next Generation 911: Maryland Answers the Call to Upgrade the State’s Emergency Response System

Law & Policy InsightsEmergency Legal Preparedness and Response

May 9, 2018
by Kathleen Hoke

Many of us use smartphones every day to send text messages, share videos, get from point A to point B, and even share our location with another person. While these services are of particular value during an emergency, they are not available to many 911 dispatch centers and emergency services around the country. In Maryland, legislation was passed to advance Next Generation 911 in the state.

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A Nation’s Response to the School Shooting in Parkland, Florida

Law & Policy InsightsInjury Prevention and Safety

April 25, 2018
by James G. Hodge, Jr.

In the aftermath of the killing of 17 people and the injuring of 15 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School in Parkland, Florida, the Trump administration has considered advocating for various gun control measures, including strengthening of the national background check system (NICS) and a ban on bump-stocks (devices that fully automate semi-automatic weapons). There are additional evidence-based gun control measures that have demonstrated efficacy in preventing gun deaths and injuries in several states.

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Q & A on Public Health Legal Implications of the Flint Water Crisis

Law & Policy InsightsSafe Drinking WaterEmergency Legal Preparedness and Response

April 25, 2018

The Flint, Michigan, water crisis was a manmade disaster that resulted in the poisoning of thousands of children and adults after lead leached into the city’s drinking water; sadly, the harm to Flint residents is still impacting the community today. In this Q&A, Network senior attorney Colleen Healy Boufides, discusses a report she co-authored that examines the legal failures that lead to the crisis as well as what can be learned with regard to public health practice to protect other communities.

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Food Insecurity and Aging out of the WIC Program

Law & Policy InsightsFood Safety and Security

March 28, 2018
by Mathew R. Swinburne

WIC is a highly effective program that helps address the food insecurity of young children. However, WIC benefits end at age five, the assumption being that children will start school and participate in the National School Lunch Program. However, thousands of children do not start school until age six, leaving a critical gap in benefits and creating negative effects on the food security of families.

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Supervised Consumption Spaces as a Harm-Reduction Strategy During the U.S. Opioid Crisis

Law & Policy InsightsOpioid Misuse and Overdose PreventionSubstance Use Prevention and Harm Reduction

March 14, 2018
by James G. Hodge, Jr.

Supervised consumption spaces (SCS) provide safe spaces where persons can consume opioids under the supervision of licensed medical professionals. SCS have proven effective at reducing overdose deaths in those countries where they have been studied. In the U.S., SCS face legal challenges that statewide legal reforms (or in some cases, emergency declarations) seek to address.

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Thinking about Kids, Smartphones and Public Health Law

Law & Policy InsightsMental Health and Well-Being

March 1, 2018
by Jill Krueger

Overuse of smartphones is associated with a variety of negative health effects. As technology, our culture, and the evidence continue to evolve, public health has a role to play in educating young people, their parents, and the public about the risks and benefits of smartphone use, and in the development of laws to address the risks of excessive smartphone use and addiction.

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Drug Paraphernalia Laws and Alternatives to Syringe Exchange

Legal Technical Assistance HighlightsSubstance Use Prevention and Harm ReductionOpioid Misuse and Overdose Prevention

February 13, 2018

A requester contacted the Network noting that it is a misdemeanor for pharmacists to sell drug paraphernalia in his state and that there were also no needle exchange sites in the state. Limited access to drug paraphernalia may increase the likelihood that intravenous drug users will share needles, increasing the spread of diseases like HIV and hepatitis C. The requester wanted to know if other states have similar laws and what strategies for harm reduction have been used in those states.

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People, Not Problems: Confronting the Health Justice Implications of Laws that Criminalize Homelessness

Law & Policy InsightsHealthy and Affordable Housing

February 13, 2018
by James G. Hodge, Jr.

The creation and enforcement of municipal laws criminalizing homelessness are escalating in U.S. cities. Much like the criminalization of HIV, the criminalization of homelessness creates additional barriers to housing, health care, employment and other basic human needs, perpetuating the cycle of homelessness and corresponding health inequities.

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