Thomas Hanna, communications manager, writes this week about the 60th anniversary of the Gideon vs. Wainwright Supreme Court decision:
This Saturday marks the 60th anniversary of one of the most impactful and consequential Supreme Court rulings in the modern history of criminal justice reform. On March 18, 1963, the Court unanimously ruled that the constitutionally protected right to counsel requires states to ensure that anyone charged with a felony has a lawyer, regardless of their ability to pay.
“In our adversary system of criminal justice, any person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for him. This seems to us to be an obvious truth,” the ruling stated. Subsequently, the Court extended this requirement to all cases, including misdemeanors, in which the accused faces the possibility of incarceration.
On this 60th anniversary, we are celebrating the heroic work of public defenders across the country, as well as calling loudly for change. While there have undoubtedly been significant improvements in the six decades since Clarence Earl Gideon hand-wrote his petition to the Supreme Court from a Florida prison, there is an ongoing crisis in our system of public defense.
In many jurisdictions, public defense is under-resourced and public defenders are overworked. This can diminish the effectiveness of the counsel that they can provide and has serious social, health, and economic implications for defendants, their families, and their communities. It has also led to a dark reality in which every year thousands of people are incarcerated without ever having seen a lawyer.
In 2021, AV created its public defense portfolio, and has subsequently invested nearly $10 million in efforts to understand the drivers and implications of the public defense crisis and effectuate policy change. This includes $3.4 million in new grants announced this week.
“Over the past six decades there has been tremendous progress on ensuring that all people facing serious criminal charges have access to an attorney regardless of their financial status, but significant challenges remain,” Ezekiel Edwards, vice president of criminal justice at AV, explains. “There is a pressing need for continued commitment and innovation by state and local governments in order to not only abide by the constitution, but also to reduce the individual, community, and fiscal harms of unfair and inequitable pretrial detention and incarceration associated with the lack of access to effective counsel.”
Read our story about the Gideon anniversary and AV’s public defense portfolio here >
Defunding Borrower Trust
By Torie Ludwin, communications manager
What's Happening: The Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) has a set of new tasks on its plate in addition to running federal financial aid: it has to create and implement a simplified Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form and adapt to a new set of reforms stemming from negotiated rulemaking and Biden's student debt plan. So the office asked Congress for a larger budget — from $2 billion to $2.65 billion. And it was not approved. According to NPR, sources in the administration call the lack of funding “catastrophic.”
Why It Matters: When programs, activities, and services are limited by budget constraints, students and borrowers will bear the brunt of the trade-offs that have to be made in the system. Without additional funding, FSA could face challenges with daily oversight functions and programs. This could mean delays to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or student borrowers waiting for hours to talk with loan servicing representatives over the phone. This potential decline in essential services not only complicates the process of administering the student aid system for those at FSA, but it also jeopardizes the trust of students and borrowers, which can affect their experiences in school and in repayment on their loans.
What's Next: Biden's proposed budget includes a funding bump for the Office of Federal Student Aid, although the funding is needed now.
Arnold Ventures sat down with New America's Sarah Sattelmeyer to go over the implications of the FSA's funding restraint for borrowers and taxpayers.
What's Happening: Recently, the U.S. Department of Education requested comments on a proposal to alter the way schools pay to conduct student recruiting through online program management companies (OPMs) as part of the latter's "bundled services." When OPMs create a contract with a university or school, the school often pays for a bundle of services from the OPM that may include moving a program to an online format, marketing the program, and recruiting students, among other services, in exchange for a percentage of the revenue from the program.
Why It Matters: Schools are barred from paying Recruiters based on the number of students they enroll, and for good reason: recruiters would target vulnerable communities with promises of an education — and then cash in once the student took out loans and enrolled.
However, a loophole emerged — the bundled services loophole. As long as marketing and recruiting were part of a larger "bundle" of services, revenue-sharing agreements (where schools and OPMs share the tuition revenue) were okay. So, while OPMs started as third party vendors primarily to help universities convert in-person programs to online platforms (and do a little marketing on the side), recruiting has become a much larger part of their work – and key to bringing in more revenue for the OPM. Payment based on recruitment numbers has led some OPMs to engage in predatory practices against students, who are pressed by recruiters to take out hefty student debt to enroll in programs that may have low financial value.
What's Next: With the spotlight on online program managers thanks to the U.S. Department of Education, students and taxpayers may see stronger protections from predatory recruiting practices and the potential ensuing debt load.
Read Arnold Ventures' formal comments on bundled services here >
Related: At the Chronicle of Higher Education, Taylor Swaak gathers responses to the Department of Education's proposal to alter the way schools conduct recruiting with online program management companies (OPMs) as part of the latter's "bundled services."
$27 Billion projected cost taxpayers will overpay to Medicare Advantage in 2023
While Arnold Ventures supports Medicare Advantage as an option for Medicare beneficiaries, the evidence is clear that Medicare Advantage plans are overpaid. Abusive and in some cases fraudulent billing practices by insurance companies have been well documented. To protect profits, special interest groups representing insurance companies have spent at least $10 million on television ads carrying false and misleading claims designed to intimidate Congress and bend the Biden administration to their will.
With billions of dollars in play, Congress and the White House must ignore scare tactics and instead follow the evidence. Cutting fraud and abuse is not a cut to Medicare. Proposed changes in play now by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are reasonable and move the program in the right direction by taking steps to curtail abusive practices by Medicare Advantage plans. But we need to go further to rein in abusive charges and preserve and protect the Medicare program for future generations.
Read our All Interested Parties memo sent to members of Congress here>
Read our piece from AV experts on the state of play here >
In a Chicago Tribunearticle about the upcoming mayoral election in Chicago, AV Vice President of Criminal Justice Walter Katz discusses how discourse in the city should focus on the most effective policing strategies, not necessarily just more police.
The APreports on how North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has created an "Office of Violence Prevention," which will help local officials access trainings, model programs, and sources of funding in order to reduce community violence.
In an new op-ed on NJ.com, New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin confirms that bail reform has not contributed to any significant increase in crime in the state.
A new report from the Prison Policy Institute, an AV grantee, reveals that 1.9 million people are incarcerated in the United States, which amounts to a staggering rate of 565 per 100,000 people.
From The Hill, The US Department of Health Human Services this week published a list of 27 drugs covered by Medicare that will face penalties under new federal drug pricing provisions as their prices increased faster than the rate of inflation.
More than one in seven nonelderly adults live in families with past-due medical debt, according to a new analysis from Urban Institute. Of those individuals with past-due medical debt, nearly three-fourths owe at least some debt to hospitals, and nearly one-third owe hospitals alone. More from Fierce Healthcare.
AV grantee UC Merced released a report on online colleges, finding that online education (vs. in person) is associated with worse graduation rates and loan repayment outcomes at both for-profit and non-profit four-year universities.
Adam Looney of the Brookings Institution argues that the Department of Education does not know what the true cost of its newly proposed income-driven repayment plan (IDR) plan will be, who will benefit from the program, or what its economic consequences will be.
For the latest on school accreditation "shopping," Chazz Robinson and Shelbe Klebs of Third Way follow up on what has happened to the schools that were previously accredited by the now defunct and poorly regarded school accreditor ACICS. Their analysis found that former ACICS-accredited schools flocked to the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC); of the 52 schools that moved from ACICS to ACCSC, nearly 60% of them provide no ROI for students, based on Third Way’s price-to-earnings premium metric.
Contraceptive Choice and Access
The Center for American Progress issued its third report in a series by analyst Kierra Jones that explores how states can expand access to contraception and other vital reproductive health services through Medicaid.
In The Hill, Wendy Edelberg and Melissa S. Kearney discuss options to expand and simplify the Child Tax Credit.
For AV grantee the Tax Policy Center, Richard C. Auxier contrasts state and local aid during two events: the COVID-19 crisis and the Great Recession.
Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget President Maya MacGuineas emphasizes the need for deficit reduction in CNN Opinion.
The Tax Policy Center, an AV grantee, made available the video from a virtual event held in February on “Predicting Tax Credits: How Income Volatility and Family Dynamics Affect Intended Beneficiaries.”
What We're Watching
Hulu's new series “UnPrisoned” is a comedic, yet serious look at the complex dynamics associated with reentry following incarceration. Watch the show on Hulu and read a review by Tripp Laino, Director of Media Relations at FAMM, an AV-grantee.
Cristine Soto DeBerry, Executive Director of the Prosecutors Alliance, an AV-grantee, joined Dr. Phil to discuss criminal justice reform.
Save the Date
On Tuesday March 21, at 6 p.m. EDT, the Christie Institute for Public Policy will be holding a conference on criminal justice and bail reform in New Jersey. Virginia Bersch, AV director of criminal justice, and John Koufos, AV director of advocacy will be speaking at the event alongside former Governor Chris Christie and several other notable guests.
On Thursday, March 23, at noon p.m. EDT, AV grantee the Center for Taxpayer Rights will host the first in a series of Online Tax Chats entitled, “Toward an Effective, Trusted, & Inclusive IRS.” The first conversation features former IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti.
With help from the Prison Entrepreneurship Program, Michael Galloway founded X-Cons Fitness after being released from Texas state prison in 2019. Now he has more than 130,000 followers on his TikTok account where he posts workout videos and stories about prison.
We're Seeking Proposals
The Higher Education and Evidence-Based Policy teams have created a request for proposals for rigorous impact evaluations of programs and practices (“interventions”) to promote college success in the United States.
Jennifer Reyes provides strategic support to the Communications team and is responsible for a variety of external and internal projects involving writing, web and newsletter production, social media, and design.
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