Volume 8

Spring 2010 Edition


“The Impact of Panel Composition on Sex Discrimination Case Outcomes at the U.S. Circuit Courts”
Renée Nicole Souris

This paper explores panel dynamics for sex discrimination cases at the U.S. Circuit Courts. It offers an interdisciplinary approach to studying panel judicial decision-making on the U.S. Circuit Courts by drawing on mainstream legal theory, contemporary political science, and the empirical legal sciences. After situating the issue within a multi-faceted theoretical framework provided by these three disciplines, hypotheses concerning the impact of the presence of female and minority judges on three-judge panels are put forth and empirically tested using logistic regression.

“Finding Out “What Works” in Reentry: Discovering Evidence-Based Practices”
Tiffany Mease

Prisoner reentry has recently returned to the policymaking agenda, as the need to remedy the cycle of incarceration is being acknowledged and addressed. With this renewed interest in reentry come federal funds and an effort to rigorously evaluate programs aimed at helping prisoners successfully reintegrate into their communities. This paper examines these initiatives, describing lessons learned and identifying obstacles of both program implementation and evaluation. The goal is to provide insights and recommendations for policymakers and practitioners in order to facilitate the development of evidence-based practices. I find that many implementation obstacles are related to issues of coordination and communication, as various service providers struggle to provide continuous, comprehensive services. Scientifically rigorous outcome evaluations are emerging, which provide useful examples of the types of studies that will help identify ‘what works’. In the conclusion, I provide several recommendations for moving forward.

“The Impact of China’s Three Gorges Project: An Evaluation of its Effects on Energy Substitution and Carbon Dioxide Reduction”
Jiaqi Liang

With 26.43 million cubic meters and on the Yangtze, the world’s third longest river, China’s Three Gorges Dam is the largest hydropower project in the world. One of the project’s objectives is to generate renewable and sustainable electricity in order to reduce the reliance on conventional thermal energy (i.e., coal, oil, natural gas) and thus curtail carbon dioxide emissions in China. However, some suggest that hydropower is a generator of greenhouse gases (e.g., carbon dioxide and methane), which emanate from the decomposition of a large amount of submerged vegetation and organic matter. This study tests the effect of Three Gorges on electricity generation from thermal energy sources. Proponents of the project believe it will reduce thermal electricity generation as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The major finding is that the contribution of Three Gorges to China’s total electricity generation is far less than that envisioned by policymakers when they launched the project.

“Transparency Problems in the Municipal Debt Markets and Their Effect on Fiscal Condition”
Kelly Shea

Cities across the country have mounting obligations and often chose to offer bonds to address capital needs or provide services. While many cities in the U.S. are in trouble financially, the true state of their fiscal affairs is often hidden. This paper attempts to explain how current problems in the capital market—including problems with credit rating agencies and bond insurers—directly affect municipal bond offerings by cities and states and how proposed changes could be made to increase transparency in this sector.

“Proposed Regulations of Mortgage-Related Financial Instruments”
Adam Birka-White

The causes of the current financial crisis, while numerous, all trace back to the American housing industry. The federal government’s response to the crisis, thus far, has mainly entailed massive purchases of preferred stock from financial firms. While the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and various bailouts unaffiliated with TARP have served to stabilize the economy, capital purchases do not address the underlying market failures responsible for the housing market crash. This paper proposes that subprime mortgages, credit default swaps, and mortgage-backed securities be regulated in order to ensure long-term, sustainable economic recovery.

“Permanent Transitions: Collective Identity Formation in Israel, Jordan, and Palestine”
Kay Zare

While the Israel-Palestinian conflict proceeds unresolved, the sixty years since the triumph of Israeli independence also marks the painful legacy of a Palestinian population dispersed in a seemingly permanent diaspora. Our present study inquires to what extent the Palestinian status as refugee shapes the circumstances in which they live and the types of identification that follow. In analyzing the ethnic Palestinian identity we examine three distinct regional (two of which are also national) sectors—Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Territories. A constructivist view would drive the expectation that under different political, economic, and cultural circumstances, there will be observable changes to the ethnic identity repertoire. Three hypotheses follow: First, reconstructions of Palestinian identity will take place in states undergoing substantive efforts to integrate or assimilate the population, forming observable culture and loyalty shifts from ethnic to national identities. Second, states where Palestinians experience greater economic integration and upward social mobility will be more successful in producing a national civic identity. Our third hypothesis takes an opposing position, asserting that in the absence of sustained and substantive efforts to integrate the Palestinian population a more ethnically driven and primordially defined identity will emerge through groups, such as Hamas and the early PLO movement. Ultimately, the research concludes that the tools for integration exist, but national leaders must be willing to integrate Palestinian minorities. Otherwise, over a prolonged period of repressive economic and political realities, alienation may lead again to ethnic violence as it has so many times in the past.