Inequality Inquiry >> Category

Inmate Rights and the Prison/Jail System During COVID-19—Interview with Prof. Susanna Blumenthal

May 9, 2020

Picture of Susanna Blumenthal

JLI staff members Abbie Hanson and Jen Davison recently interviewed Professor Susanna Blumenthal in a conversation about COVID-19’s effects on inmate rights and the prison/jail system. Professor Blumenthal co-directs the Program in Law and History at the University of Minnesota and she is an expert in criminal law. Professor Blumenthal’s research and writing focuses on the historical relationship between law and the human sciences. In this discussion, the group highlights the challenges of containing a virus in inherently constrained spaces, the damaging results on inmate rights, and how groups are working to ensure that incarcerated individuals receive adequate protection during a pandemic.

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Deadly Force: How George Floyd’s Killing Exposes Racial Inequities in Minnesota’s Felony-Murder Doctrine Among the Disenfranchised, the Powerful, and the Police

March 8, 2021

View/Download PDF Version Greg Egan[1] I. Equity in Peril: How Felony-Murder Charging Discretion and Widely Varying Punishments are Deployed Against White Defendants, Defendants of Color, and Peace Officers Minnesota’s second-degree felony-murder statute represents a unique and creative charging mechanism that affords wide discretion to prosecutors. This makes it ripe for inequitable application. It is the…

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A Healthy Start: Minnesota Is Pioneering an Alternative to Prison Nurseries, and Other States Should Follow Its Lead

March 28, 2022

by Rachel Pokrzywinski*   In May 2021, Governor Tim Walz signed Minnesota’s Healthy Start Act (HSA) into law. The first of its kind in the United States, the HSA authorizes placement of pregnant and postpartum inmates into alternative housing—such as halfway houses and residential treatment facilities—with their newborns for up to one year after birth.…

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Out of the Cell and Into the Fire: Inherently Dangerous Prison Work Assignments, the Eighth Amendment’s Guarantee of Safe Conditions of Confinement, and California’s AB-2147

April 13, 2022

by River Lord[1]   Using the labor of inmates in the United States has a long and controversial tradition. Many observers have identified how higher rates of policing and incarceration among minority communities, coupled with the widespread use of inmate labor in exchange for sub-minimum wages, create a system of labor exploitation and racial oppression…

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Ignoring Inequalities and Refusing to Consider Consequences: The Supreme Court’s Blocking of OSHA’s Emergency COVID Standard

March 31, 2022

By Brandon Vaca[1] On January 13, the six conservative Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court stayed (blocked) and effectively struck down the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) emergency vaccine-or-test standard (Standard) for employers.[2] The Court’s reasoning in its unsigned opinion ranges from vexing to troubling. As the three dissenting Justices pointed out, the Court…

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The Movement Lawyer of 2020

August 11, 2020

Image of a wall with spray painted text reading "I Can't Breathe"

Want to hear how two recent University of Minnesota Law grads chose to respond to the tragic killing of George Floyd? Click the link to learn more about the inspiration behind the “Breathless” podcast, created by Ian Taylor, Jr. (’19) and Haaris Pasha (’19).

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How We Got Here: Race, Police Use of Force, and the Road to George Floyd

April 1, 2021

Long before the killing of George Floyd, the United States has struggled to mitigate racially arbitrary use of force by the police. This article seeks to explain how we got to the killing of George Floyd. This article contends that that the law—especially the decisions of the Supreme Court and political choices made by politicians—has helped to enable the relatively unchecked use of force against people of color.

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Gentrification, Displacement, and Disparate Impact Liability: How Gentrification Theory is Not Cognizable Under the Fair Housing Act

May 2, 2022

by Adam Mikell*   In the United States, the topic of housing has an ugly history comprised of decades of government-sanctioned discrimination and segregation carried out through racially-motivated practices such as “neighborhood composition” rules, racial covenants, steering, and redlining. In 1968—the tail end of the Civil Rights Movement—the Fair Housing Act (FHA) was passed to…

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Avoiding Atkins: How Tennessee is on the Verge of Unconstitutionally Executing an Individual with Intellectual Disabilities

November 18, 2020

Image Courtesy of Attorneys for Pervis Payne

If the state executes an intellectually disabled individual, but no one knows of the intellectual disability, has the state violated the constitution? It is our sincerest hope that Pervis Payne and others in a similar procedural labyrinth that could lead to what everyone agrees would be an unconstitutional execution are provided an opportunity to present the merits of their claims of intellectual disability. Justice, decency, and the Constitution demand it.

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JLI’s Statement Regarding Chauvin Verdict and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice

April 21, 2021

Gabrielle Maginn, Heather Chang, Navin Ramalingam, and the JLI Editorial Board Yesterday, twelve jurors found Derek Chauvin, a White former Minneapolis police officer, guilty on all counts—third-degree murder, second-degree unintentional murder, and second-degree manslaughter—for killing George Perry Floyd, Jr., on May 25, 2020. This was an extraordinary case, bolstered by the bravery of the witnesses…

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Response to MPD’s Killing of George Floyd

June 2, 2020

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by Jen Davison and the JLI Editorial Team        On May 25, 2020, a White Minneapolis Police Department officer killed George Floyd, a Black man in our Twin Cities community. The White police officer killed Mr. Floyd while Mr. Floyd was in police custody, and bystanders captured the scene of Mr. Floyd’s final…

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