SUMMER ISSUE 2021

Climate Change Banners

BY: DANA MCCLURE

So raise your fists

And march around,

Just don’t take what you need.

I’ll jail and bury those committed

And smother the rest in greed.

 

Since 2017, in response to the nonviolent protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, more than a dozen states across the country adopted legislation limiting citizens’ ability to protest against fossil fuel infrastructure projects through means ranging from increased penalties for trespassing to allowing state officials to prohibit public gatherings. Widespread protests and civil unrest during the summer of 2020 in response to racial injustice prompted states across the country to adopt legislation expanding the definitions of terms like “riot” and “unlawful gathering” and providing increased penalties for acts of protest. This comment analyzes three representative statutes from Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Tennessee using a constitutional framework to consider the impacts of these statutes on First Amendment rights, including speech, assembly, and association.

Green Park

BY: JESSICA WAKEFIELD

The criminal justice system is inefficient, ineffective, and fraught with laws and policies disparately impacting people of color and low-income individuals. There is no singular solution to crime, and the current system does not go far enough. If we are to achieve the goals set out by the criminal justice system of enhancing public safety and reducing crime, then we must resolve the root issues contributing to crime through other bodies of law and alternative mechanisms. This paper will analyze how criminal law ends may be achieved through environmental means; specifically, how the addition of green spaces in urban communities can reduce crime and improve communities. This paper argues that crime reduction and prevention goals can be achieved by using zoning law to create more green spaces in urban communities because communities with accessible green space experience lower rates of crime and an increase in community well-being and prosperity. Given that low-income individuals and people of color lack comparable access to green space and are most adversely affected by the criminal justice system compared to their White and more affluent counterparts, the addition of green spaces in these communities may help correct racial and economic injustices while improving the areas in which they live.

Image by mrjn Photography

BY: MAKAYLA L. LOEB

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the necessity of access to clean water and sanitation as a means for disease prevention, yet many around the world lack access to these essential resources. Using an environmental justice lens in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, this paper looks to countries who have made substantial progress toward achieving access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and seeing what lessons might be learned from their success that can be imparted to other countries.

Image by Hédi Benyounes

BY: MELISSA MITCHELL

This note examines the environmental issues associated with mass incarceration. It will first discuss mass incarceration and environmental injustices generally. Then it will assert that, due to the increased demand for prison facilities, mass incarceration led to an era of building prisons on the cheapest, easiest to obtain sites: toxic waste sites and environmentally compromised locations across the country. It will examine the statistics and recent studies from organizations working to improve prison conditions. This note will assert that mass incarceration is, in its own way, a form of environmental injustice that may even be subject to Eighth Amendment constraints. To support this conclusion, it will first highlight the statistics on prisoners who have experienced health issues as a result of environmentally unsafe conditions. During this discussion, it will question Eighth Amendment implications; namely, whether asbestos, arsenic, and other toxic chemical exposure constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Next, it will examine the communities surrounding prisons and discuss how existing case law does not require prisons to conduct an environmental impact study prior to the construction of a prison. It will highlight the vast amount of pollution caused by prisons in recent years by examining specific prisons that have contaminated their surroundings, specifically in low-income and rural areas. Finally, it will discuss possible solutions to this problem and the difficulties in achieving those solutions.