Opinion: Is it unfair for state to suspend licenses for unpaid tickets?

East Bay Times

By Jhumpa Bhattacharya

Close to 20 years ago, I received my first traffic ticket speeding on Interstate 5. I can still remember the sheer panic I felt when I heard the siren and saw the flashing lights. I received a reckless driving ticket for going 86 mph, 30 miles per hour above the speed limit and was mandated to appear in court.

A few weeks later in court, I plead guilty and the judge told me that I could go to traffic school to avoid impacting my record. I was relieved until they told me that my fee was $360. My only option was to use a credit card and pay over time. One year later I finally paid off the fine plus interest, totaling close to $420.

To read Jhumpa’s full op-ed, click here.

Driving Into Debt: The Need for Traffic Ticket Fee Reform

 Driving Into Debt: The Need for Traffic Ticket Fee Reform is a detailed report highlighting the flaws and inequities of California’s current traffic fine and fee system and offering specific recommendations for reforms that would promote sustainable system funding and the fair administration of justice for all Californians. Authored by Annette Case and Jhumpa Bhattacharya of the Insight Center, the report describes a current system that all too often leads to spiraling debt, license suspension, and unequal justice for the poor and communities of color. Read the report to learn how low-income, Black, and Latino communities are disproportionately affected by California’s fixed fine and fee system, and how we can bring fair, practical, and sustainable reforms to serve all Californians.

Click here to view and download Driving Into Debt: The Need for Traffic Ticket Fee Reform.

 

 

Being a sanctuary city is more than proclamations, rhetoric

Being a sanctuary city is more than proclamations, rhetoric

East Bay Times

By Jhumpa Bhattacharya

Sanctuary: a place of refuge and protection — Merriam-Webster dictionary.

In February, I had to travel to Birmingham, Alabama for work. I’m a fairly seasoned traveler and normally have no qualms taking trips to places I have never been. But post-election and particularly with the travel ban, I found myself feeling apprehensive about traveling to the South.

To read Jhumpa’s full op-ed, click here.

Taking a Lesson from History to Provide True Sanctuary for Our Immigrants

Taking a Lesson from History to Provide True Sanctuary for Our Immigrants

By Jhumpa Bhattacharya

Sanctuary: a place of refuge and protection — Merriam-Webster dictionary.

I had to travel to Birmingham, Alabama for work last month. I’m a fairly seasoned traveler and normally have no qualms taking trips to places I have never been. But post- election, and particularly with the Travel Ban, for the first time in a long while I found myself feeling a bit apprehensive about traveling to the South. I expressed my concern about “traveling while Brown” to my partner and he responded, “Birmingham just passed a resolution to be a sanctuary city!” and to his credit, I did feel better about going. I took comfort in knowing that the city government had taken this stance.

Shortly after that conversation, news of massive ICE raids broke. Federal agents raided homes and workplaces in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, the Los Angeles area, North Carolina and South Carolina, tearing apart families and sparking terror in millions of people. I was terribly confused. How could raids be happening in cities that proclaimed themselves to be sanctuaries? What were city officials and city police doing to prevent these from happening? “What are you expecting?” my partner asked, “Law enforcement to fight law enforcement?”

Click here to read her full op-ed on Medium.

#ThisIsNotNormal, it really isn’t and must be reversed

by Jhumpa Bhattacharya | January 25, 2016 – East Bay Times

This is not normal, this is not normal, #ThisIsNotNormal. I can’t even count the number of times I have read or heard this phrase since Nov. 8.

For too many of us, the election of Donald Trump and the ensuing barrage of appalling tweets, press conferences, prospective policy decisions and political appointments feel like direct attacks on our safety and who we are.

Click here to read Jhumpa’s full op-ed.

Research Brief Series: Women, Race & Wealth, Volume 1

Women, Race and Wealth is the first in a series of briefs that summarize patterns of household wealth among black and white women by college education, family structure and age using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). Researchers from Duke University and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development analyzed data on assets such as savings and checking accounts, stocks, retirement accounts, houses and vehicles. Debts included credit card debt, student loans, medical debt, mortgages and vehicle debt.

Click here to view and download Women, Race and Wealth, Volume 1.

The Color of Wealth in the Nation’s Capital

by Kilolo Kijakazi, Rachel Marie Brooks Atkins, Mark Paul, Anne E. Price, Darrick Hamilton, and William A. Darity Jr.

The Color of Wealth in the Nation’s Capital is a joint publication of the Urban Institute, Duke University, The New School, and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.

The 2007–09 Great Recession and housing crisis erased approximately half of Black and Latino households’ wealth, while Asians suffered the largest absolute lost in wealth (McKernan et al. 2014). Asian and Latino households tended to live in geographic areas that were hit hardest by the housing crisis (De La Cruz-Viesca, Hamilton, and Darity 2015).

But the dramatic wealth disparities between White communities and communities of color long predate the dramatic economic downturn. This report explores racial and ethnic differences in net worth, focusing on Black families in Washington, DC, and shows, through a chronicle of their history in the city, how discrimination and systemic racism have contributed to today’s wealth gap in the nation’s capital.

Click here to view and download the full report as a PDF.

Issue III: Special Series on Retirement Security

Retirement Security: We must plan for tomorrow, so our families can live for today

The final issue brief, “Retirement Security: We must plan for tomorrow, so our families can live for today,” is available now alongside video content, online resources, and planning tools in a dedicated Retirement Security section of the Insight Center’s website.

Authored by Gabriela Sandoval, the Insight Center’s Director of Research and Chief Economic Security Officer, this final installment explores the current work of colleagues and partners in the field of retirement security. Each partner is listed, with information about their organization, key work they have conducted in the retirement security field, and links to relevant reports, articles, tools, and resources.

Read and download the final retirement piece here.

The Color of Wealth in Los Angeles

New study reveals nuanced story of race and wealth in LA

The new report examines wealth inequality across racial and ethnic groups in Los Angeles, shows substantial disparity with Japanese, Asian Indians, Chinese and whites ranking among the top, while blacks, Mexicans, other Latinos, Koreans and Vietnamese rank far behind.

The Color of Wealth in Los Angeles” is the first report to compile detailed data on assets and debts among people of different races, ethnicities and countries of origin residing in the Los Angeles area. Researchers from UCLA, Duke University and The New School, with support from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, analyzed data on assets such as savings and checking accounts, stocks, retirement accounts, houses and vehicles. Debts included credit card debt, student loans, medical debt, mortgages and vehicle debt.

To download the full report click here.

Issue II: Retirement Security

Retirement Security: We must plan for tomorrow, so our families can live for today.

This second of three issue briefs, “Retirement Security: We must plan for tomorrow, so our families can live for today“. Authored by Gabriela Sandoval, the Insight Center’s Director of Research and Chief Economic Security Officer, this second installment brings several opportunities together to examine the significance of identifying and promoting safe, accessible and portable retirement savings platforms, programs and products. Now is the time to make retirement security a reality for all Americans.

Retirement security—or, the ability to make ends meet as a retired older adult—is becoming less and less attainable. Over the last 50 years, we’ve seen our nation’s promise broken. America’s promise offers a world where something better awaits the next generation, yet far too many ordinary middle and working class families, committed to provide a good life for their children, are still handed dwindling paychecks and made to pay more each day for the basics. American families were just following the rules for success: go to school, work hard, save, and prosperity will be your reward. The most ordinary things—a layoff, injury, illness or divorce— suddenly mean an end to the life they created, the security they were promised for working so hard.

Read and download the full issue brief here.