SQuARED Justice 2022

Saturday, April 16, 2022, 1:00 p.m. EDT – 3:00 p.m. EDT, 10:00 a.m. PDT – 12:00 p.m. PDT.

Our annual SQuARED justice conference this spring of 2022 was hosted April 16th, the online conference provided the opportunity for undergraduate and graduate student researchers to present their work to members of the QSIDE, activist, and business communities; with this year’s conference spanning 13 presentations and more than 70 registrants.


Minjae Yun, Claremont Graduate University
Title: Criminal Decarceration Policies and the Effect on Community Safety
Abstract: This paper examines the effect of re-sentencing policies as a means of decarceration on community well-being. In 2011 and 2014, California passed jail decarceration policies, AB 109 and Prop 47, respectively. AB 109 reallocated state prison inmates into local county jails. On the other hand, Prop 47 reduced penalties for non-serious property crimes, thereby providing a second chance to offenders that committed specific non-violent crimes while lowering the burden on county jails by shifting offenders into local communities. My results indicate that Prop 47 increased the homeless population and health-related governmental spending but did not reduce governmental spending on corrections. Furthermore, California jail disposition data show heterogeneous effects on recidivism. For example, Prop 47 decreased recidivism rates for Prop 47 charges (non-serious and non-violent charges) after AB 109 increased the rates in county jails. However, Prop 47 failed to lower recidivism rates for control group charges (more severe than Prop 47 charges) after AB 109 raised the rates in county jails. Finally, I find that Prop 47 raised non-violent crime rates, utilizing Los Angeles crime data, especially among non-homeless offenders.

Vanessa Maybruck, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
Title: Discovering Context and Evolution of the R-Word in Twitter Posts over Time
Abstract: The R-Word (“retard” and its derivatives) has a decades-long history within the disability justice community. Originally introduced as an alternative to the terms “idiot,” “moron,” “cretin,” and “imbecile,” which were used to categorize people with intellectual disabilities on the basis of IQ, the usage of the R-Word began with honorable intentions. However, time saw the R-Word quickly morph into a pejorative itself, and despite efforts by disability activists and organizations like Special Olympics and Spread the Word to End the Word, R-Word usage persists today. In this study, we examine the contextual usage of the R-Word in Twitter data. Specifically, we use a categorical decision tree model to sort R-Word usages into two main contexts-intentional cruelty and ignorance-and we investigate the proportions of R-Word usages in each context as compared to total usage. Furthermore, we present a novel ordinary differential equation model that can be used to predict evolution of R-Word usage in response to sudden events such as litigation changes. This model can be generalized to other derogatory language patterns as well. Collectively, these efforts can be used to inform educational intervention strategies by identifying the predominant contexts in which the R-Word is used and predicting how R-Word usage might change in response to future advocacy.

Rainita Narender, Claremont Graduate University
Title: 911, What’s your Emergency?”: Effect of Call-taker Proclivity to Mention Race on Arresting and Force Use Outcomes
Abstract: Attitudes toward policing practices have transformed considerably in recent years motivating structural calls to action ranging from fundamental police department restructuring to de-funding police departments all together. Recent media attention on officer use of force resulting in civilian deaths has fueled these calls for action. In this work we utilize 911 calls for service in Dallas, Texas to investigate how 911 call-taker race mention influences an officer’s decision to use force, arrest a civilian, or escalate an encounter. We leverage exogenous call-taker assignment to incoming calls for service in a leave-out instrumental variable strategy and discover that calls assigned to call-takers with higher race mention propensity result in significantly higher use of force, arrest and escalation in calls where minority race is mentioned.

Atticus Wolfe, University of South Carolina
Title: Interrogating Minority Labels: Queering Categories
Abstract: Quantitative research often combines LGBQ into one “sexual minority” category, hindering nuanced understanding of the mechanisms of health behaviors and outcomes. Using the Social Determinants of Health framework and intersectionality theory, we offer a contemporary conceptualization of the queer health sociopolitical landscape to understand the influence of distinct sexual orientation identities on health-seeking behaviors and access to care. We used cross-sectional data from the 2017 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) database (n=78,132 respondents) to assess the association between sexual orientation (gay/lesbian = 335, straight = 16,692, bisexual = 230, something else = 87, and “I don’t know” = 162) and health care access/utilization using bivariate chi-squared tests and multivariate assessments using ANOVA models in Stata 17.0. When controlling for self-reported race, binary sex, region, age, chronic condition status, education, and insurance coverage, we found that sexual orientation is positively associated with respondents’ inability to access care based on multiple constraining factors, including prohibitory cost (F = 9.7, p < 0.001), appointment availability (F = 3.36, p < 0.01), clinic operating hours (F = 5.45, p < 0.001), delay filling a prescription due to cost (F = 3.8, p < 0.01) clinic phone availability (F = 2.18, p = 0.068), and transportation (F = 4.54, p < 0.01). We determine that sexual orientation should be addressed within broader cultural contexts, including sociodemographic characteristics such as chronic condition and chronic pain statuses. Future research that includes sexual orientation must intentionally operationalize and validate measures of identity to achieve more accurate depictions of minority status. Furthermore, integrating nuanced models of sexual orientation is vital to accurately capture the influence of status, power, and stigma experiences for gay and lesbian people, and other sexual identities.

Manasvi Khanna, Wellesley College
Title: A Spatial Analysis of the Indian Farmers’ Protest
Abstract: In June 2020, the central government of India proposed three temporary agricultural laws, all of which were passed by both the houses of the parliament. These laws incited a response from farmers in India that led to one of the largest protests ever seen. Approximately 250 million farmers organized in protest of the laws’ suppression of their autonomy. We conduct a spatial analysis of the farmers’ protests from 2019 to 2021 in Indian states, focusing on the actors involved in the protests, the categorization of reported events (e.g., nonviolent or violent), and the percentage of the agricultural population of that state. Preliminary findings suggest systemic differences in reporting patterns within Indian states based on national versus regional news sources, as well as changes in the spatial intensity of violence reported in a state in relation to its agricultural population. These findings provide insight into the range of the farmers’ protests and draw attention to the various factors that affect the lens of media reporting in India. Future research will examine the impact of labor unions on the scale of farmer’s protests and the incorporation of new population census data. This research is integral to further understanding the complex nature of these protests and using this research to inform changes to public policy.

Alissa Whiteley, Clarkson University
Title: Crime and the Community
Abstract: There exists a long history of mathematical tools being applied to the problem of reducing crime. In 2020, the mathematical community called for mathematicians to boycott collaborations with police departments due to concerns that such work could lead to racially biased policing. We acknowledge that concern, but believe that math may still have a role in helping to establish and maintain community safety. We see two shortfalls in the historical approach to this problem: (1) police are viewed as external to the community, and (2) the only goal is reduced crime, without considering other impacts on the community. As an alternative, we explore community policing, via modeling and simulation. Our intention is to identify strategies that improve overall community well-being. We model police as part of the community, which consists of the police, criminals, and at-risk members. Many modeling techniques are applicable (agent-based, ODEs, patch, PDEs etc.). In this project we focus on our ODE model that considers police resources spread across three key activities: community outreach, crime prevention, and crime-fighting. We examine the implications of this resource allocation problem. We then add a spatial component, and allocate resources to “urban greening” – where a portion of resources are used to establish green space, known to reduce crime and enhance public safety and well being, where we now use an ODE patch model to analyze this setting. Fundamental to our approach is understanding that “crime reduction” cannot be the only goal. Other considerations (community trust, recidivism, loss of human capital, quality of life impacts due to fear, and many others) make this decision problem sufficiently complex that mathematical models will be essential to assisting policy-makers toward better solutions.

Erin Franke, Macalester College
Title: An Analysis of Police Stoppage Data and Redlining in Saint Paul, MN
Abstract: Philando Castile, George Floyd, Daunte Wright. Just a few of the national headlines that have come out of the Twin Cities related to unjustified police brutality. While these national headlines made the news, do you ever stop to think whether police injustice occurs on a more frequent daily basis? We wondered how police stoppage data could be correlated with potential redlining and racial inequity in the Twin Cities. To answer this, we decided to use publicly available police stoppage data for Saint Paul, MN and investigate stoppage tendencies relating race to searches, citations, and location. We created graphs, charts, and maps to analyze the data in more detail. We ended up finding evidence of there being a higher frequency of stoppages in neighborhoods that are minority dominated, as well as that evidence that minorities may be searched at a disproportionate rate in comparison to white drivers.

Britt Davis, North Carolina State University
Title: A Disproportionate Burden: Coal ash
Abstract: Coal ash ponds are used to store the waste product of coal power. These ponds are unlined holes in the ground where a viscous slag-based cocktail of mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and many other toxic heavy metals are continuously dumped. These ponds are situated adjacent to major water bodies and are susceptible to dam breaches as well as seeps into the groundwater — and in some cases drinking water. The following maps in this series follow an inductive approach to uncover patterns in the data related to these toxic landscapes, thus offering a visual tool to hypothesize the future for places such as these. Data from various sources including the EPA, Center for Disease Control (CDC), United States Census, Earth Justice, and the Environmental Integrity Agency revealed a disproportionate burden for communities of color and low-income communities. Six out of the ten most polluted and toxic sites in the country are within a 5-mile radius of these communities. Further, these phenomena are magnified in the South Atlantic Gulf watershed. In North Carolina alone there are 14 coal ash ponds in close proximity to a community of color. North Carolina is tied for second place with South Carolina for state with most coal ash ponds in proximity to a community of color. The fourth map in this series takes a closer look at the Charlotte Metropolitan area in North Carolina and the Allen Steam plant, the 2nd most contaminated in the nation, and its relation to the assiduous West Boulevard Community as well as Union County, which has the highest record of Alzheimer’s cases in North Carolina and is downstream of the coal ash ponds.

Grace Lofstrom, St. Olaf College
Title: Disrupting the Status Quo to Expand Music Performance Curriculum
Abstract: The expansion of the musical canon is not a new endeavor in classical music circles. There has been a steady increase in racial consciousness, and the unrelenting work by musicians of color has brought the issue of performing music by composers of color back to the forefront of discussion. Yet, there are still numerous barriers that have prevented and are continuing to prevent people from performing music by composers of color, including a lack of access to scores by composers of color and concerns about ‘permission’ or cultural appropriation in the performance of music by composers of color. The purpose of our study is to further promote the performance of music by composers of color. To do so, we analyzed the responses to a survey distributed during the summer of 2021 by Professor Emery Stephens and student researchers in the Collaborative Undergraduate Research & Inquiry program. The survey was distributed primarily to colleges and universities and received responses from a mix of music faculty, students, professional musicians, and others deeply involved in music making communities. It collected responses to demographic questions, multiple-choice questions, and short and long answers questions. We have determined that most people, including people who identify as BIPOC, believe that people of all races and ethnicities can appropriately perform music by composers of color if they approach it with respect, passion, and humility. Moreover, we compared these beliefs to sentiments expressed in similar data collected in 2006 from a national survey, tracking changing attitudes about the performance of music by composers of color. In our presentation, we explain the rigorous textual analysis we used to compare the results of these two surveys, provide a list of resources to enable easy access to music by composers of color, and summarize current attitudes towards best performance practice to enable students and teachers alike to expand their personal performance canon.

Jaclyn Frishcoy, Alice Krupczak, Tyus Walker, Carlie Couzens, Michigan State University
Title: JUSTFAIR Michigan: The Quest for Data
Abstract: The non-profit organization QSIDE created the JUSTFAIR (Judicial System Transparency for Fairness through Archived/Inferred Records) project for the federal judiciary in 2020. The project seeks to create a database of criminal sentencing decisions and analyze them with respect to patterns in defendant demographics and characteristics of presiding judges. Additionally, we want to keep track of patterns of specific judges in the Michigan Circuit court. Our team of Michigan State University Data Science majors works alongside QSIDE to apply the original JUSTFAIR project to the state of Michigan. This project seeks to adapt the original JUSTFAIR framework as applied to sentencing outcomes of the Minnesota judicial system by scraping publicly available Michigan judicial data from the Internet. This has proved challenging due to privacy policies, prompting the group to issue a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. A record of our methods is provided for future research.

Muskan Walia, Mick Wagner, Teric Abunuwara, Harrison Webb, Shaylie Platten, University of Utah
Title: Night Life: Connections between Lights, Median Income, Zip Codes, and Car Crashes
Abstract: There are known effects of blue light on circadian rhythms where higher exposure to blue light makes it harder to get to sleep and maintain a healthy sleep schedule. Additionally, light pollution is incredibly disruptive to surrounding environments and has negative environmental consequences, including for humans. We focused on finding correlations between the types of lights in certain zip codes and the average income of those areas. We also looked for correlations between the distribution of different kinds of lights and the number of car crashes in a certain area. We found a trend of higher amounts of LED lights in lower income zip codes. A question we wanted to investigate was if there was an unfair exposure to harmful light for lower income individuals. As Utah continues to industrialize, the impacts of light pollution will amplify. Our findings support justice-centered interventions to the disproportionate impacts of light pollution.