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Community Engagement and Social Change Minor Capstone Papers

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Cover page of Racial Dynamics Among Clients in Residential Substance Use Disorder Treatment Facilities

Racial Dynamics Among Clients in Residential Substance Use Disorder Treatment Facilities

(2019)

Previous studies have outlined the importance of culturally competence practices, such as racial match between client and counselor and counselors’ knowledge of racial issues, for racial minorities who seek treatment for substance use disorders. Racial identities play a crucial role in defining social interactions in correctional facilities and homeless shelters, which have overlapping  population demographics with residents of residential facilities for publicly-funded substance use disorder treatments, suggesting that racial dynamics may also affect clients’ experiences in this setting. This study seeks to investigate the racial dynamics among clients in residential substance use treatment facilities by interviewing clients in a facility in South Los Angeles about their interracial interactions, perceptions of clients of race and ethnicity different from their own and discussing how racial dynamics might affect their progression and outcome with treatment. 9 semi-structured interviews with clients in a female-only residential facility were conducted. Based on analyses of transcribed interviews, clients recounted that racial differences do not play a significant role in their experiences in treatment, especially compared to the street environment or correctional facilities, although racial identities are salient in social group formation. Motivation to recover from addiction and other shared lived experiences facilitate interracial solidarities within the treatment setting. This study suggests that treatment facilities could take advantage of clients’ similar experiences and interracial solidarity to create a sense of connectedness and inclusion in treatment.

Cover page of Auditing Audits: Exploring the Connection Between State Punitiveness and Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Audit Robustness

Auditing Audits: Exploring the Connection Between State Punitiveness and Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Audit Robustness

(2019)

Sexual assault in prisons is a shameful phenomenon in the United States. According to the Department of Justice, over 200,000 individuals are sexually abused in confinement annually. In response to this human rights crisis, Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) in 2003 with the intention of creating measures to protect inmates from this abuse. Since then, PREA standards for different types of confinement facilities were passed, auditing of facilities began, and changes regarding the auditing process were made as various shortcomingsbecame apparent. In prior research, I explored if PREA audit-related reforms were successful in resulting in higher quality prison audits than had previously been conducted (specifically, in Alabama). Disappointingly, I found that they were not and that Alabama’s audits were alarmingly inadequate. This led me to my present question, which seeks to uncover whetherincreased state punitiveness is correlated with decreased PREA audit robustness. Based on the auditor application and certification process, I hypothesize that a relationship between state punitiveness and audit robustness does not exist. To answer this question, I examine three audits from each of three different states that vary significantly in their supposed punitiveness. I explore five distinct factors that I believe are indicative of audit robustness and examine how each of the nine audits performs in relation to these factors. I find that, based on these measures, increasedstate punitiveness does not appear to be associated with decreased audit robustness.

Cover page of A New Look at the US War on Drugs and the Colorblind Criminalization of Latinx Immigrants

A New Look at the US War on Drugs and the Colorblind Criminalization of Latinx Immigrants

(2019)

This paper examines the systemic racism operating behind the over-criminalization of the US immigration system, a relatively recent transformation occurring as a product of the War on Drugs. The unprecedented scale of deporting and detaining Latinx immigrants, in combinationwith the political effort to scapegoat this community as a “threat to national security,” shares commonalities with the heinous mass incarceration and criminalization of African Americans.Both processes thrive on an artificial appearance of “colorblind” impartiality, as the War on Drugs has ensured that racial bias remains implicit, not explicit, in these policies. However, as the increasingly punitive immigration system has entangled itself with the criminal justice system, the distinctive pattern of anti-Latinx racism obscures from public consciousness. Inresponse, this paper attempts to weave a comprehensive narrative that contextualizes the myth behind the so-called “illegal immigrant.” It proceeds by analyzing and connecting works of literature discussing the changes in immigration law, public discourse, and foreign policy occurring at the intersection of the War on Drugs.