Since Fall 2012, the Policy Advocacy Clinic has engaged in cutting-edge research, policy work and advocacy.
Current clinic projects include efforts to:
- Reduce the burden of administrative fees on low-income youth and families in the juvenile justice system,
- Increase police accountability in communities of color,
- End the criminalization of homeless people, and
- Reform the money bail system in California.
Prior clinic projects include:
Debt Buyer Abuse
The Clinic collaborated with the East Bay Community Law Center on a project to end the abuses by a third party debt buying industry, which preyed upon low income people in the wake of the Great Recession. Clinic students helped draft and advocate for a California law that addresses the problem, drafted a model bill for other states, and submitted federal rulemaking comments on the issue.
HEALTH and PUBLIC BENEFITS
Affordable Care Act
The Clinic worked with the Next Generation, a San Francisco-based think tank, to leverage implementation of the Affordable Care Act to increase take up rates of low-income Californians in key safety net and work support programs. Clinic students researched and wrote both a full report and a targeted policy brief on the topic, resulting in positive action by the Legislative Analysts Office and the state legislature.
HOUSING and HOMELESSNESS
Since 2012, the Clinic has been involved in various efforts to end the criminalization of homeless people in California. Clinic students researched and wrote an innovative policy brief refuting two empirical claims made by proponents of a Berkeley ballot measure that would have criminalized sitting and lying on sidewalks. In following semesters, students published a path breaking report on the statewide enactment and enforcement of anti-homeless laws, which is being used to advocate for a statewide right to rest bill.
Section 8 Discrimination
Clinic students researched and created internal work product on landlord discrimination against Section 8 voucher holders in California, which limits housing choice, exacerbates residential segregation and heightens disparate social and economic outcomes for low-income people of color.
U-Visas for Victims of Hate Crimes
Clinic students prepared a manual for service providers on behalf of the National Immigrant Law Center to assist LGBT immigrant victims of hate crimes apply for U-Visas. The manual helped identify what kinds of crimes qualify as hate crimes for U-Visa purposes and best practices and sample forms for advocates who are filing U-Visa applications on behalf of clients. The manual has been distributed to more than 600 immigrant service providers nationally.
The Clinic worked with the Northern California Immigrant Justice Collaborative and a UC Law School Working Group interested in increasing access to legal services for immigrants in California. The students drafted internal work product specifically around immigrant detention in California.
Juvenile Court Debt
Since fall 2013, the Clinic has been collaborating with a working group in Alameda County to end the imposition of administrative fees on youth and their families in the juvenile justice system. Clinic students prepared a manual for advocates assisting youth and their families navigating Alameda County’s juvenile justice system, including information about court-ordered restitution (to repay victims for economic loss), restitution fines (which go to the California State Restitution Fund) and juvenile fees (for things like juvenile hall, probation supervision, drug testing, GPS monitoring and public defenders). Students also produced a brochure on the same issue for youth and their families.
More recently, students looked into fee practices in all 58 California counties and recommended that the Alameda County Board of Supervisors place a moratorium on the assessment and collection of fees against youth and their families.
The Clinic has examined local and state mechanisms to promote police accountability and to consider a more meaningful role for civilian police review boards in particular. Police review boards date to the 1960s in the wake of the Kerner Commission finding that low-income communities of color lacked “effective channels for redress of complaints against police conduct.” In 2006, the California Supreme Court severely restricted public access to information about police misconduct and personnel files (Copley Press, Inc. v. Superior Court, 39 Cal. 4th 1272). By consulting stakeholders and delving into current practices, students have investigated a range of legal and policy options to help reduce police-initiated harm to individuals, families and neighborhoods.