PPPA Capstone Class: Policing and Imprisonment in the US

Winter quarter 2022, Dr. Emily Thuma taught the PPPA seminar class (TPOLS 480) on the theme of Policing and Imprisonment in the United States. The TPOLS 480 seminar class is a requirement for all majors within the Division of Politics Philosophy and Public Affairs. Students take a quarter-long seminar based on an in-depth topic and then write a final indepth research paper. In March, Dr Thuma’s students presented their research to a group of UWT faculty and students. Two notable papers were those of Andre Jimenez and Selena Caldera.

Andre Jimenez presented his research entitled, “Freedom Isn’t Free: Why Pierce County Needs to Move Beyond a Cash Bail System”. Andre explores the “Impacts of cash bail and the changes we must make to move forward as a community” Demonstrating how the cash bail system undermines our principles of “innocent until proven guilty,” Andre writes, “The cash bail system as it currently stands in Pierce County criminalizes poverty, while simultaneously exacerbating racial inequities and unnecessarily puts our community at risk. Under this current system, both community members, accused individuals and their families face extreme social and economic consequences to uphold our pretrial detention system.” Andre was awarded the Mary Gates Leadership Scholarship to pursue working with Pierce County Councilmembers and relevant community stakeholders to begin building consensus to abolish cash bail in Pierce County. 

Drawing on her experiences as a veteran and work individuals suffering from PTSD, Selena Caldera studied the traumatic effects of incarceration. In her paper, “Carceral PTSDisaster: The Disparate Impact of Policing and Imprisonment on Racially Marginalized People with Trauma-Related Disability,” she asked, “How are marginalized individuals more susceptible to trauma and subsequent disability? How are individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder more susceptible to policing? How does their disability affect the likelihood and length of their sentencing to prison? How does prison
create and exacerbate trauma-related disabilities? And to what extent can we hold the system itself accountable for these harms?” Selena is preparing for law school in the fall and hopes to use her research to raise awareness about the relationship between trauma and incarceration and how our current policing and carceral practices serve to exacerbate PTSD symptoms.

Thank you to Selena and Andre for their fantastic research, and Prof. Thuma for an engaging capstone class!

Call for Self-Nominations for the Annual PPPA Paper Prize

Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs (PPPA) students are invited to nominate a paper for this year’s PPPA Undergraduate Paper Prize award. This year there will be two prizes, one for papers of 15 or more pages and one for papers of less than 15 pages. A list of prior winners, and their papers, can be found on UWT’s Digital Commons library. All PPPA students (those majoring in Law & Policy; Politics, Philosophy & Economics; and Economics & Policy Analysis) are eligible to apply.

Last year, Ariel Cook, a Law and Policy major, won the PPPA Paper Prize for her capstone paper, “Immigration Detention in the Trump Era: A Timeline and Analysis.”  Teresa Dennerlein, a Politics, Philosophy, and Economics major, received an honorable mention for her capstone paper, “Whose Recession is it Anyway? How Crisis Discourse Influences Gender Employment Equity in Recession.”

For the long paper prize, capstone papers are especially welcome, although students may nominate any independent research paper that was produced in a PPPA course (or for a PPPA internship) between Spring quarter of 2021 and Winter quarter of 2022.  Please send submissions to Prof. Charles Williams (charles1@uw.edu).

The prize winners will be announced on Friday, May 20. An award celebration will take place the following Friday, May 27 in GWP 320 (Dawn Lucien Room). This will also be a general end-of-year celebration for PPPA students, and especially graduating seniors. More details to follow in May.

Three Faculty Write Against the Repeal of Washington’s Capital Gains Tax

Last year, Washington State legislators passed a capital gains tax on the profits wealthy state residents make when they trade stocks, bonds, and other assets.  In response, a group of individuals recently filed Initiative 1929, an initiative that seeks to repeal this new law.

PPPA faculty members Katie Baird, Anna Lovasz and Tim Sharks, joined by six others, weighed in on the appeal effort, arguing that:

“I-1929 would continue to ask those with the least to pay the most by giving a tax cut to only the very wealthy individuals who pay this tax. This tax cut for the super rich would cost our state over $500 million per year in funding for childcare, early learning, and other education services that children and families across Washington depend on.”

If passed, I-1929 would repeal SB 5096, 7% tax on capital gains profits greater than $250,000. If the initiative gets enough signatures, Washington residents would vote on whether or not to repeal the state’s new capital gains tax.

Kick Off of Spring 2022 Research Seminar

On April 21st, Ben Meiches kicked off PPPA’s Spring Research Seminar with a provocative presentation entitled “Smelly Liaisons: On Multispecies Humanitarianism.”  His talk was based on research contained in his forthcoming book Humanitarianism Beyond the Human: Interventions with Animals (University of Minnesota Press). Prof. Meiches presentation discussed the contributions of rats to landmine clearance operations and the role goats and cows play in addressing chronic hunger and malnutrition. He argues that nonhuman animals should be understood as humanitarian actors and, consequently, he calls for a shift in the focus of humanitarian intervention from exclusively human interest to broader, ecological concerns.

Next up in the seminar: 

Prof. Dustin Crummett,  May 2nd, 12:30 to 1:30, TPS 104 (in person)  It Is Wrong to Kill Infants For No Reason”

followed by:

Prof. Darrah McCracken, May 19th, 12:30-1:30, Zoom Link: https://washington.zoom.us/s/6397931700    “Moral Injury in the Pandemic”