Economic Justice Data Jam


Economic Justice Data Jam let by NYCLU

The gap between rich and poor in New York could be greater than anywhere else in the United States. While New York offers many of its residents the best services – including schools and access to the legal system – too often lower-income New Yorkers face discrimination and widespread inequality. 

For example:

  • New York State’s schools are the most segregated in the nation for black and Latino students, according to a report released by the UCLA Civil Rights Project last year.  Most students of color in New York still suffer from inequality in education and opportunity, subjected to an ongoing cycle of segregation and disadvantage.
  • The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU)’s historic settlement of Hurrell-Harring, et al v. State of New York achieved groundbreaking public defense reforms, but the right to counsel, no matter an individual’s income level or ability to pay, is not yet a reality for all New Yorkers.
  • Recent investigations in other states have surfaced the degree to which low-income and disproportionately black residents are forced to bear the cost of operating local government through fines and fees and are also most likely to bear the long-term personal, family and community costs of incarceration. What is the case in New York?

On March 5th, NYCLU will work with New York’s data / tech community to explore the ways that economic inequality impacts in particular New York City residents’ access to good education and fairness in the criminal justice system.

 Questions that we will explore include:

 What are the correlations among school diversity (measured by race/ethnicity), poverty and student performance in New York’s public schools?

  • What is the financial impact of incarceration on individuals, families and communities in New York?
    • What is the lifetime cost to individuals and families of an arrest/conviction?
    • To what extent are local government budgets dependent on revenue streams generated by fines and fees, and what percent of those fines and fees come from low-income and/or minority communities?
    • Building on the work of Eric Cadora, what can we learn about the societal factors leading to “million dollar blocks” (so named due to the amount of taxpayer dollars spent to incarcerate people from a single city block in cities across the country) in New York?

What open data is available to examine these issues?  What data should be available to provide true transparency and accountability?  What patterns begin to emerge?

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