Volume 20

Spring 2022 Edition

From the Editors

Dear Readers,

What an honor it is to present to you the 20th edition of The Public Purpose Journal, an academic journal by and for graduate students in American University’s School of Public Affairs (SPA). We are privileged to have the opportunity to build on 20 years of excellence in public affairs research in The Public Purpose Journal (PPJ) and in SPA as a whole. As a student-run organization, we are grateful to the Graduate Student Council and the Dean’s office for their support.

We are so proud of the sustained presence that the PPJ has maintained on campus over the past 20 years, providing professional development and a constructive outlet for two decades of graduate scholars. This year stands as a testament to the journal’s staying power. We received a record-breaking 32 submissions to this year’s print journal, making it exceedingly difficult to narrow it down to the pieces presented here. We are so grateful for the interest and involvement we have received from our peers. We hope this is an indication of continued future success for the PPJ.

As we reflect on 20 years of public affairs, it is striking to notice the common and enduring threads, as well as the new issues that capture our attention. In 2003, a committee within the School of Public Affairs Graduate Council (now the Graduate Student Council) published the first edition of the PPJ, which featured four articles and three research notes speaking on themes such as civil rights, democracy, criminal justice, and religiosity in politics. All of these themes continue to be a source of debate in the classrooms of SPA today, as well as in the pages of the PPJ. But in recent years we have also seen our field turn its focus to issues such as climate change and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the PPJ typically publishes six to seven print articles a year, for this special anniversary edition we extended the journal to include 16 articles, an undertaking made possible by the dedication of our editing staff, faculty reviewers, and authors to an efficient and thoughtful editing process. We thank the entire print team for their hard work, which has certainly paid off. We thank our fellow executive board members for their support behind the scenes and their dedication to the mission of the journal, especially Managing Online Editor Ryan Fisher for his APA style and formatting know-how and Communications Director Gaspard Delaoustre for his iconic original cover design. And we thank you, readers, for your continued engagement with the PPJ.

We believe that the work presented in the following pages reflects the best of what SPA has to offer, featuring outstanding work in the fields of public policy, public administration, government, justice, law, criminology, and terrorism studies. While the pieces cover a wide variety of issues—from environmental remediation and immigration to public benefits and the COVID-19 response—they are tied together by their careful thought, thorough research, and demonstrated expertise. All the pieces, we believe, respond to the ever-present question in our field, “What is our public purpose?” That is the question we hope The Public Purpose Journal will continue answering for decades more to come.


Amanda Hermans, Solai Sanchez, & Karen Caspa
Editor-in-Chief | Managing Print Editor | Associate Print Editor


Eradicating the Use of Safe Cells

Oluseyi Koya, Elizabeth Layfield, Veronica Morales, & Olivia Randi