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Outbreak of COVID-19 and Interventions in One of the Largest Jails in the United States: Cook County, Illinois, 2020

Who Is at Risk of Contempt of Court for Child Support Noncompliance?

A Perceptual Scaling Approach to Eyewitness Identification

Autonomous Road Vehicles and Law Enforcement: Identifying High-Priority Needs for Law Enforcement Interactions With Autonomous Vehicles Within the Next Five Years


Review of the Capital Outlay Facilities Space of Florida's State University Systems

Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2019

What Will Social Distancing Look Like for Students at Colleges and Universities This Fall?

Students Weigh In: Learning & Well-Being During COVID-19


COVID-19: The Federal Emergency Management Agency's Role in the Response and Related Challenges

Targeting Federal Funds: Information on Funding to Areas with Persistent or High Poverty

How the Pandemic Is Changing the Economy


Southwest Border: U.S. Customs and Border Protection Should Improve Oversight of Funds, Medical Care, and Reporting of Deaths

Launching the Right Time Initiative: A Baseline Evaluation and Learning Report for a Comprehensive and Equity-Focused Reproductive Health Strategy in Missouri

Family First Prevention Services Act Fiscal Analysis

July 24, 2020


Correctional and detention facilities are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 due to shared space, contact between staff and detained persons, and movement within facilities of detained persons, many with pre-existing medical conditions. On March 18, 2020, Cook County Jail in Chicago, Illinois, one of the United States' largest, identified its first suspected case of COVID-19 in a detained person. This analysis includes SARS-CoV-2 cases confirmed by molecular detection among detained persons and Cook County Sheriff's Office staff. The authors examined occurrence of symptomatic cases in each building and proportions of asymptomatic detained persons testing positive. They describe timing of interventions including social distancing, mask use, and expanded testing and show outbreak trajectory in the jail versus contemporaneous case counts in Chicago. During March 1-April 30, 907 symptomatic and asymptomatic cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection were detected among detained persons (n = 628) and staff (n = 279), with nine deaths. Symptomatic cases occurred in all housing divisions; in 9/13 buildings, staff cases occurred first. Among asymptomatic detained persons in quarantine, 23.6% tested positive. Programmatic activity and visitation stopped March 9, cells were converted into single occupancy beginning March 26, and universal masking was implemented for staff (April 2) and detained persons (April 13). Cases at the jail declined while cases in Chicago increased Illustrating that aggressive intervention strategies coupled with widespread diagnostic testing of detained and staff populations can limit introduction and mitigate transmission of SARS-CoV-2 infection in correctional and detention facilities.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC) demonstration project integrates principles of procedural justice into enforcement practices in six child support agencies across the United States. Procedural justice is fairness in processes that resolve disputes and result in decisions. Research has shown that if people perceive a process to be fair, they will be more likely to comply with the outcome of that process, whether or not the outcome was favorable to them. Child support agencies aim to secure payments from noncustodial parents to support the well-being of their children. The target population for the PJAC demonstration project is noncustodial parents at the point of being referred to the legal system for civil contempt of court because they have not met their child support obligations, yet have been determined to have the ability to pay. The PJAC demonstration project aims to address parents’ reasons for nonpayment, improve the consistency of their payments, and promote their positive engagement with the child support agency and the other parent. This report is the third in a series developed primarily for child support practitioners and administrators that shares lessons learned as the six participating child support agencies implement the PJAC model. It describes the characteristics of the noncustodial parents in the PJAC study sample and what case managers believe led them to the point of contempt. PJAC noncustodial parents had cases that were opened an average of nine years before they entered the study, and they tended to have high debt balances. These parents often had histories of limited communication and poor relationships with child support agencies. These factors may have affected PJAC case managers’ ability to serve families in the sample to varying degrees and in various ways across sites. PJAC case managers have been equipped with tools informed by procedural justice to engage and serve noncustodial parents and early findings suggest that these tools are helping PJAC case managers engage families.

Source: MDRC

Eyewitness misidentification accounts for 70% of verified erroneous convictions. To address this alarming phenomenon, research has focused on factors that influence likelihood of correct identification, such as the manner in which a lineup is conducted. Traditional lineups rely on overt eyewitness responses that confound two covert factors: strength of recognition memory and the criterion for deciding what memory strength is sufficient for identification. Here the authors describe a lineup that permits estimation of memory strength independent of decision criterion. This procedure employs powerful techniques developed in studies of perception and memory: perceptual scaling and signal detection analysis. Using these tools, the authors scale memory strengths elicited by lineup faces, and quantify performance of a binary classifier tasked with distinguishing perpetrator from innocent suspect. This approach reveals structure of memory inaccessible using traditional lineups and renders accurate identifications uninfluenced by decision bias. The approach furthermore yields a quantitative index of individual eyewitness performance.

Source: Nature Commons

Autonomous vehicles promise many benefits, but questions remain about how law enforcement officers will interact with them. Officers likely will encounter new challenges related to technology, procedures, and constitutional authorities. To better understand the potential challenges of law enforcement interactions with autonomous vehicles, a convened workshop of practitioners and researchers identified the highest-priority problems and associated needs related to autonomous vehicles within the next five years. Workshop participants identified 33 needs that revolved around three broad themes: (1) designing a means of communicating with autonomous vehicles that also maintains cybersecurity; (2) improving stakeholder communication and collaboration; and (3) developing standard procedures, guidelines, and training needs for law enforcement interacting with autonomous vehicles. The consensus was that many of the short-term needs identified in this report require a response and that law enforcement agencies should begin proactive preparations to address longer-term challenges before being forced into reactive changes. Workshop participants expressed the need to ensure that all autonomous vehicles are programmed to behave in the same way in each interaction with first responders so that procedures do not have to change based on the make and model of the car and that it is critical for law enforcement and developers to work together to determine how interactions should occur and what behaviors can be expected of autonomous vehicles. Standardization is critical, especially for vehicles that feature higher levels of autonomy.

Source: RAND Corporation


The 2019 General Appropriations Act directed OPPAGA to contract with an independent third party consulting firm to conduct a review of the Florida’s State University System (linked above) and the Florida College Systems. To complete these studies, OPPAGA contracted with SmithGroup, Inc., a national consulting firm. As directed, the reviews evaluate whether state-level processes and those used by individual institutions are consistent with the institution's overall mission, and support state-level goals; examines space and utilization factors to determine whether they accurately reflect deficits or surpluses of each type of space and result in the most efficient and effective use of space; and assesses the extent to which each institution efficiently and effectively utilizes its current space.

Source: Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA)

This annual report examines crime occurring in schools and colleges. This report presents data on crime at school from the perspectives of students, teachers, principals, and the general population from an array of sources—the National Crime Victimization Survey, the School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the School Survey on Crime and Safety, the Schools and Staffing Survey, EDFacts, and the Campus Safety and Security Survey. The report covers topics such as victimization, bullying, school conditions, fights, weapons, the presence of security staff at school, availability and student use of drugs and alcohol, student perceptions of personal safety at school, and criminal incidents at postsecondary institutions. Preliminary data show that there were 42 school-associated violent deaths from July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017. In 2018, among students ages 12–18, there were about 836,100 total victimizations (theft and nonfatal violent victimization) at school and 410,200 victimizations away from school. During the 2017–18 school year, 35% of public schools (28,700 schools) took at least one serious disciplinary action for specific offenses. Of the 958 total hate crimes reported on college campuses in 2017, the most common type of hate crime was destruction, damage, and vandalism (437 incidents), followed by intimidation (385 incidents) and simple assault (83 incidents).

Source: National Center for Educational Statistics, U.S. Department of Education

As college and university leaders look to repopulate their campuses this fall, physical distancing protocols (including use of face masks, maintaining six feet of distance from others, and limits on large gatherings) will be crucial to keeping campus safe. While achieving perfect adherence to physical distancing on a college campus is unrealistic, institutions need to do everything they can to maximize compliance among students. In early June, the authors surveyed about 70 institutions on their plans to promote and enforce physical distancing on campus. The authors found three major trends: safety kits, using positive influence to educate and promote physical distancing, and uncertainty around enforcement. Sixty-seven percent of institutions surveyed will provide students with COVID-19 safety kits in the fall. Common approaches institutions will use to educate students include social norming campaigns on social media, regular campus-wide communications from senior leaders, and leveraging student leaders or campus influencers to promote distancing. In terms of enforcing physical distancing guidelines, only 17% of respondents are updating their code of conduct to incorporate physical distancing or quarantine guidelines, but there may be changes: 37% are considering making changes and 11% were unsure.

Source: EAB

Education in the United States, as across the globe, changed dramatically when schools across the country closed in spring 2020 and students were asked to learn remotely. There is a critical opportunity now to listen to and learn from students’ lived experiences during this unprecedented time. As we navigate the challenges ahead, students’ voices must be central to the way school is reimagined. This report shares data and insights gathered from the Students Weigh In: Learning & Well-Being During COVID-19 survey. This approximately 12 minute online survey, fielded from May 11th and June 19th in English and Spanish, asked 5th to 12th grade students age-appropriate questions about their school experience, social and emotional development, and well-being during the unprecedented spring 2020 school closures. Over 20,000 students responded from 166 schools across 9 states. Only half of students said their teachers give them assignments that really help them learn and 39% said they learn a lot every day. The most frequently cited obstacles to virtual learning were distractions at home (64%) and feeling depressed, stressed, or anxious (50%). On average, Black and Latinx students faced more obstacles than White and Asian students. On average, about half of students rated their relationships with teachers and adults in school positively – but only one in three rated their sense of belonging positively. Male students rated their health and well-being more positively than did female students and students who identify in another way. One in five high school seniors’ postsecondary plans have changed.

Source: YouthTruth

Government Operations

The COVID-19 pandemic shows how biological threats have the potential to cause loss of life and sustained damage to the economy, societal stability, and global security. During the pandemic, 57 major disaster declarations were simultaneously issued for all U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories—the first time in history this has occurred. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had obligated about $5.8 billion for the response as of May 31, 2020. This statement addresses (1) FEMA's role in managing the COVID-19 pandemic, including efforts to acquire and distribute critical medical supplies, as well as (2) potential challenges for this and other biological incident responses. As part of the interagency group with responsibility for leading the whole-of-nation response and the federal official responsible for the operations of the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC), the FEMA Administrator has a key role in managing the COVID-19 response. This includes responding to states’ needs for critical medical supplies. The authors identify several challenges for FEMA in this and future responses. Challenges include issues with contract coordination between FEMA other federal agencies, and states and localities; concerns about the distribution, acquisition, and adequacy of supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile and other sources; and issues deploying disaster workforce in addition to COVID-19. This statement is based on products the authors issued from August 2003 to June 2020, as well as ongoing efforts to monitor contract obligations. For these products, the authors reviewed relevant presidential directives, statutes, regulations, policies, strategic plans, other reports, as well as federal procurement data; and interviewed federal and state officials, among others.

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office

The “10-20-30 formula” has been applied to appropriations for some federal programs since 2009. It requires that agencies use at least 10% of designated program funds in counties that have had poverty rates of at least 20% over the last 30 years (also known as “persistent-poverty counties”). Legislation proposed in 2019 (H.R. 2055) would apply the formula to more programs for funds appropriated over the next 10 years. It also would require these programs to increase funding in “high-poverty areas”— census tracts with a poverty rate of at least 20% over the last 5 years. The authors identified 247 programs across 14 agencies that may fall within the scope of this bill. As of 2017, persistent-poverty counties were predominantly rural and more frequently located in the South than in other regions. The authors identified 409 persistent-poverty counties (13% of all counties), roughly 50% of which were rural. In contrast, high-poverty census tracts —which represented 28% of all census tracts—were frequently urban (74%). Publically reported federal spending data do not include census tracts. The authors determined that ZIP codes were the best available substitute, and 77% of high-poverty ZIP codes overlapped with a high-poverty census tract. Of the 247 programs potentially subject to H.R. 2055, 114 (accounting for $87 billion in spending) had sufficiently complete county-level data in USAspending.gov. In fiscal years 2017–2019, agencies used 8% of funds in persistent-poverty counties under these programs. Individual agencies’ funding levels varied, but agencies used less than 10% of funding in persistent-poverty counties under 68 programs (60% of programs with sufficient data). This included 27 programs that did not have any funds used in these areas. Fewer programs had sufficiently complete ZIP code-level data (46 programs, accounting for $4.9 billion in spending), but agencies used higher percentages of funds in high-poverty ZIP codes (37%) under these programs.

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office

The COVID-19 public health crisis, the economic shock triggered by the pandemic, and public policy, business, and individual responses to the pandemic together have provoked the sharpest and fastest economic downturn in U.S. history. Both the pandemic and the fiscal policy response have ebbed and flowed, and the economy remains fragile. This report discusses how the current crisis fits into historic context and what will be the long-lasting economic consequences. In particular, policymakers will need to address increasing concentration among businesses, accelerating automation, and stark reductions in labor force participation among certain groups. An effective response will require renewed emphasis on antitrust enforcement, changes to the labor market to ensure that those with less education are not left behind, and support for parents, caregivers, and those with compromised health to help keep them attached to the labor market. Policy needs to focus on pushing the economy back to its full potential and cushioning those most directly harmed by the downturn. But policymakers also need to prepare for the fact that, much as individuals are changed by extended periods of isolation or fear, the economy will not go back to exactly what it was before. In addition to the many policies that were needed prior to the pandemic to support broadly shared economic growth, in the wake of this health and economic crisis there will need to be a renewed emphasis on antitrust, on making sure a reimagined economy can provide far reaching opportunities, and on ensuring that people have the support they need to participate in the labor force.

Source: Brookings Institute

Health and Human Services

Three children died in U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody between December 2018 and May 2019, prompting questions about CBP's medical care for those in its custody. In July 2019, an emergency supplemental appropriations act was enacted, providing additional funds to CBP, including funds for consumables and medical care. As of May 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Protection within the Department of Homeland Security had obligated nearly $87 million of the approximately $112 million it received specifically for consumables and medical care in a 2019 emergency supplemental appropriations act. U.S. Customs and Border Protection obligated some of these funds for consumable goods and services, like food and hygiene products, as well as medical care goods and services such as defibrillators, masks, and gloves. However, CBP obligated some of these funds for other purposes in violation of appropriations law. For example, CBP obligated some of these funds for goods and services for its canine program; equipment for facility operations like printers and speakers; transportation items that did not have a primary purpose of medical care like motorcycles and dirt bikes; and facility upgrades and services like sewer system upgrades. Until CBP develops and implements additional guidance, and establishes oversight roles and responsibilities, the agency does not have assurance that the remainder of funds appropriated for consumables and medical care—about $25 million as of May 2020—will be obligated consistent with the purpose of the funds. The authors provide several recommendations including developing oversight mechanisms and updating internal data reporting systems to include categories on suicide attempt and serious injuries.

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office

The Missouri Foundation for Health launched The Right Time program in 2019 to increase contraceptive access and use by improving clinical supply, community awareness, and environmental supports so Missouri women and families are empowered in their own health care decisions. This report documents the launch of the program in early 2019 and presents baseline information and learning from implementing the program that year. These findings will support course corrections, inform decision making, and maximize overall learning from the program. Key findings include (1) the program is notable for its multidimensional approach and emphasis on achieving health equity, specifically achieving equitable access and outcomes for all women, regardless of income, race or ethnicity, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status, and age; (2) participating clinics have seen a slight increase in contraceptive use among their patients -- the number of women using contraception increased by 3% between visit intake and exit and more than 20% of women switched from less-effective non-hormonal methods to more-effective hormonal methods; (3) media outreach included a standalone website, social media platforms, paid media, and earned media -- in-reach client referrals ranged from posters for clinics to palm cards for patients; and (4) program staff and community partners held meetings and organized community events to advance the advocacy agenda, engaged with coalitions and work groups to promote relevant administrative and regulatory policies, and worked with policymakers to strengthen and coordinate policy efforts related to reproductive health.

Source: Mathematica

This report is designed to help state and local child welfare leaders maximize opportunities, available through the federal Family First Prevention Services Act, aimed at preventing children from entering foster care. Maximizing these opportunities requires thoughtful planning. State and local child welfare leaders must examine the array of prevention services they already provide and consider existing or new services that can meet the needs of their children and families, as well as the Family First standards. Child welfare leaders must also understand the fiscal implications of implementing the prevention provisions. Of particular significance, under Family First, families do not have to meet income-eligibility standards, as they do with Title IV-E funds, for states to receive federal reimbursement for prevention services. The law also put in place standards of evidence that prevention programs must meet to be federally reimbursable. This report and supporting fiscal analysis tools can help child welfare leaders conduct effective fiscal planning for the Family First prevention provisions.

Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation

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OPPAGA is currently accepting applications for a part-time, academic year Graduate Student Position. OPPAGA is an ideal setting for gaining hands-on experience in policy analysis and working on a wide range of issues of interest to the Florida Legislature. OPPAGA provides an opportunity to work in a legislative policy research offices with a highly qualified, multidisciplinary staff that includes public administrators, social scientists, accountants, MBA graduates, and others.


Government Program Summaries (GPS) is a free resource for legislators and the public that provides descriptive information on over 200 state government programs. To provide fiscal data, GPS links to Transparency Florida, the Legislature's website that includes continually updated information on the state's operating budget and daily expenditures by state agencies.


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