Bronfein Family Law Clinic Student-Attorneys Make Progress on Providing Dignity to Menstruating Inmates

Women are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. prison population. In Maryland, the female inmate population has more than tripled since 1978. Yet correctional facilities have fallen short in responding to the unique personal hygiene needs of this population –specifically, granting them free access to menstrual products.

In a Dec. 9 post on Human Rights at Home Blog, student-attorneys in the UB School of Law’s Bronfein Family Law Clinic, writing under the guidance of the clinic director, Professor Margaret Johnson, described successes they and others have had in changing the law to require free access to menstrual products for inmates who need them.

“As of February 2018, Maryland did not have a law requiring the provision of menstrual products to those who were incarcerated,” they wrote. “Due to the need for products in Maryland’s prison and jails, legislators sponsored a bill in the Maryland General Assembly requiring the provision of menstrual products for persons who are incarcerated.”

Professor Margaret Johnson heads the University of Baltimore School of Law's Bronfein Family Law Clinic.
Prof. Margaret Johnson

The bill passed the legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Larry Hogan. As of Oct. 1, 2018, Maryland correctional facilities are legally required to maintain a sufficient supply of free menstrual products. “With this new law, Maryland became a leader in the country with this initiative of making menstrual products available, at no cost, and with unfettered access,” the students wrote.

This fall, the clinic student-attorneys filed multiple public information act requests with county detention centers across Maryland, to obtain their policies and ensure compliance with the new law. They also prepared a model policy for facilities who request it.

As of November 2018, 21 states now require the provision of menstrual products to incarcerated persons. On the federal level, comparable legislation has yet to make it out of committee.

Student authors of the blog post were Katherine Haladay, J.D. ’19; Alexis Holiday, J.D. ’19; Alexis Sisolak, J.D. ’19, and Makeda Curbeam, J.D. ’19.

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Prof. Wehle on What Michael Flynn’s Cooperation with the Mueller Team Might Say About the Larger Investigation

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and related intrigue at the U.S. Justice Department, have kept Prof. Kim Wehle hopping between radio and TV legal analyst gigs, sometimes making several appearances in the same day. Her experience as a federal prosecutor, and as associate independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation, have helped make her a sought-after commentator on CNN, MSNBC, NPR and BBC World News, among others.

Today on NPR’s Morning Edition, Prof. Wehle discussed what can be learned from the special counsel’s heavily redacted sentencing memo for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, which was filed on Dec. 4. “The memo indicates that he’s still working with them. This isn’t the end of the line for Mr. Flynn,” she said in the interview. She also speculated that the Mueller probe won’t be wrapping up any time soon.

The drip, drip of indictments, plea deals and dispositions in recent months is adding up to a significant body of evidence, Prof. Wehle said. “When people talk ‘no collusion, no collusion,’ I think that voice is getting fainter and fainter and getting drowned out by what’s made public,” she said. When asked if the Mueller investigation and other inquiries into the Trump campaign and Trump Organization constitute a “test of American democracy,” she said, “Absolutely.”

She presented what she sees as the four possible outcomes of whatever investigators conclude: “We could tolerate it, which I think is really problematic …  Number two, there could be a resignation; three, impeachment, or four, an indictment, and we’ll just have to see if there’s accountability for this stuff.” 

Prof. Wehle’s media appearances can be reviewed at her website. She also contributes regularly to The Hill; her columns can be found here. She has written two books slated for publication in 2019: How to Read the Constitution and Why (HarperCollins), and The Outsourced Constitution: How Public Power in Private Hands Erodes Democracy (Cambridge University Press).

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Law School Alumna Gets Inside View of Brett Kavanaugh Hearings as Senate Judiciary Committee Staffer

When UB School of Law alumna Bryanna Spann, J.D. ’18, began her job as a law clerk to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in August, she had no idea she would have a front-row seat — literally — at one of the biggest news events of the year. She also found herself on cable news, which led to newspaper coverage in her hometown near Charleston, S.C.

As a staffer to Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT, Spann helps draft policy memos and recommendations, and prepares witness questions for committee hearings. She also represents Blumenthal in meetings with constituent groups and lobbyists.

Bryanna Spann assists Sen. Richard Blumenthal during the Kavanaugh hearings.

When she and her fellow law clerks were tasked with helping prepare the senator for the late September hearings to consider Brett Kavanaugh for a seat on the Supreme Court, that’s when it got more than a little nuts. “It was very fast-paced. A lot of things changed very quickly,” said Spann, 27.

As new information became available about the nominee, and those accusing him of sexual assault, the five law clerks — two more than are usually assigned to the committee — were required to do “minute-by-minute research” to keep up with and investigate the fast-moving revelations, she said.

“During the week of the hearings, we were staying as late as 11 p.m. every night,” Spann said. “I didn’t realize how much preparation went into these kinds of hearings.” For Spann, who was a student-attorney at the law school’s Immigrant Rights Clinic and had planned on a career in international law, the experience has been eye-opening in several ways.

“I’ve loved every part of it,” she said. “It’s a lot more policy-oriented than I thought it would be before the election. I feel like I’m a perfect fit here now.” Although her clerkship is ending later this month, she said she plans to spend the next five to 10 years working in some capacity for the federal government.

Her takeaway from the Kavanaugh episode? Spann said she was put off by Kavanaugh’s bellicose outbursts — especially his attacks on Democrats — on the second day of hearings. “We have to have conversations in a more civil manner,” she said. “We need to take the partisanship out of it.”

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‘Ungers’ Study Provides Blueprint for Reform to Address Problem of Mass Incarceration

The American public is finally becoming aware of the problem of mass incarceration, but not enough is being done to address it. Reform efforts have focused on non-violent offenders, as UB School of Law Professor Jane Murphy wrote in a Dec. 3 Baltimore Sun op-ed.

“Over the past three decades, the number of people jailed in America has tripled to almost 2.3 million, more per capita than any other country in the world. The racial disparities in our criminal justice system are flagrant and well documented,” wrote Prof. Murphy, who directs the Juvenile Justice Project at the law school.

Most people serving long sentences should be considered for release, she wrote. “As I can attest from working with clients sentenced to life as children, many people convicted of violent crimes have been overcharged or wrongfully convicted. But — and this is crucial — even those who are guilty of the crimes for which they are serving long sentences must be included in reform efforts,” she added.

Prof. Murphy described recent findings of the Justice Policy Institute, which followed 188 inmates who were released from prison following a 2012 court decision, Unger v. Maryland. Six years later, despite having been violent offenders and facing numerous challenges upon their release, only five had returned to prison, for a remarkably low 3 percent recidivism rate. By contrast, the recidivism rate for the general prison population is 40 percent.

What made the difference for these individuals, in addition to their age — the average age upon release was 39 — was the social support they received to help them access housing, medical care and employment. 

“What lessons are to be derived from the Ungers? Violent offenders cannot be ‘off the table’ in criminal justice reform. With modest investment in re-entry services, many can be released without threatening public safety,” Prof. Murphy wrote.

“The Unger report estimates that the government could provide a similar level of support to all people released from prison at a cost of about $6,000 per individual, a fraction of the cost for continued incarceration. Instead of continuing to age in prison, the Ungers are leading meaningful and productive lives. …

“The Ungers provide the blueprint,” she concluded. “Let us take the lessons from this remarkable story and begin a new, more meaningful conversation about criminal justice reform.”

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Ambassador Verma Decries ‘Nationalism and Pseudo-Isolationism’ in U.S. Foreign Policy in Stead Lecture

Looking back on a richly varied government career, most recently as U.S. Ambassador to India from 2014 to 2017, Richard Verma stressed the importance of the United States’ moral leadership on the global stage, and warned of dire consequences as that role is diminished by the current administration.

“In my lifetime, the U.S. has played a lead role in supporting international law,” he said during his remarks at the Nov. 26 John Sumner Stead Annual Lecture on International and Comparative Law at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

“The international legal system is under duress. And the United States’ role is increasingly uncertain.” 

Ambassador Verma, who is currently vice chairman and partner at The Asia Group, remarked on the dangerous tendency to overlay domestic politics on the diplomatic agenda. International treaties and conventions are meant to transcend politics and survive through changes in presidential administrations, he said.

“International law is not owned by a political party. But there is something about today that is different,” he said.

After World War II, western nations coalesced around a “liberal democratic order. International law is the glue that holds this order together,” he said. As the U.S. retreats into isolationism, the beneficiaries of our reticence will be China and Russia, whose influence could only be described as self-serving.

Today, we need to build “a liberal democratic order for this century, not the last.” Isolationism “does give our adversaries the edge,” he cautioned. Cutting our nation off from the rest of the world “is the solution that demagogues will present.”

Ambassador Verma is a Senior Fellow at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He is the recipient of the State Department’s Distinguished Service Award, the Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship, and the Chief Justice John Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award, and he was ranked by India Abroad as one of the 50 most influential Indian-Americans.

 

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More Than $16,000 Raised for the School of Law on Giving Tuesday

2018 Giving Tuesday_Insta PostWe sincerely thank all the students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the School of Law for your generous donations on Giving Tuesday. Because of your generosity, 173 gifts were made to the School of Law, totaling $16,290. On Giving Tuesday in 2017, 55 gifts were made to the law school for a total of  $4,325.

This year, with the most number of gifts and the most money raised, the School of Law is now the proud owner of the University’s “bowphy” and the “giving cup” as part of the annual “Bow on Poe” challenge.

These donations will support stipends the UB Students for Public Interest (UBSPI), litigation expenses for our Clinical Program, an annual staff award, opportunities for sharing faculty research and many other pressing needs.

The day of giving was record-breaking not only for the School of Law, but for the entire University. More than $38,000 was raised by the four schools and the RLB Library in support of UB students.

Thank you again to all of the generous donors and to the staff members of the University of Baltimore Foundation, the Alumni Relations Office and the four schools and RLB library whose efforts made the day a success.

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If you missed your chance to donate on Tuesday, you can still support the School of Law with an online gift. To learn more about giving opportunities, contact Michelle Junot at mjunot@ubalt.edu or 410.837.4142.

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Exams Are Almost Here! Law Library Staff Are Ready and Willing to Help Students Prepare

It’s almost exam time! The University is hosting several activities across campus — known as De-Stress Fest — to make getting through a little bit easier. 

The Law Library staff also have lots of ways to help you prepare.

Library extended hours run from Saturday, Dec. 1 through Thursday, Dec. 13, 7:30 a.m. to midnight. The 9th floor computer labs will stay open until 2 a.m.

Group Study Rooms: Only UB School of Law students may reserve a group study room. Rooms can be reserved up to seven days in advance and must be made by 7 p.m. the day before the reservation. You must register with VEMS to reserve a group study room. Follow these instructions and be sure to allow at least 24 hours for your registration to be confirmed. You will not be able to reserve a study room until your registration is confirmed, so register early. Questions? Contact Adeen Postar or Joanne Colvin.

Laptops: Laptops for use in exams will be distributed from the Exam Control Room (AL608). Library laptops may not be used for exams.

Library Exam Refreshers: Coffee, tea and assorted snacks will be available on the 7th Floor in the Library beginning Monday, Dec. 3 at around 5 p.m.

Need A Study Aid or Hypotheticals? Visit the Study Aids page for suggestions and the Library’s Sample Bar Questions by topic from the Maryland State Board of Bar Examiners to practice answering your essays. The online collection of West Study Aids will also help you prepare for you exams. You may find CALI lessons another good tool to use for studying for your exams – register with your UB email address with the code BALTUVstu14.

Please be respectful of your fellow students and maintain a quiet and professional atmosphere in the Library at all times.

The Law Library staff wish you the very best of luck on your exams! If they can be of help during this stressful time, whether it’s recommending study aids or just helping to maintain a quiet environment in the Library, let them know by coming to the 7th Floor Service Desk or by emailing them at lawlibref@ubalt.edu.

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