Policy brief on Prison Industrial complex

Social Responsibility Policy Brief Directions: (Suggested WGSS 2013 Policy Brief Template.docx)

Scenario: You work for an non-profit or advocacy organization that works on addressing inequities in the prison system. Write a ~800-1000 word policy brief that explains how the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) impacts a marginalized popoulation in terms of gender, sexuality, and /or race. Provide evidence and examples of how the Prison Industrial Complex and current practices and policies disproportionately impact and target the population/group you are centering. Propose 2 new practices and policies that addresss the issues/problems at the local, state, or federal levels. Your policy recommendations should be informed by Women’s Studies and feminist concepts and approaches. Engage bold, imaginative, and innovative approaches that address social inequities and (hetero)patriarchy. You will be required to use at least 2 sources from our course and 2 outside sources relevant to your topic. 
Examples of populations you can center for your policy brief:

Incarcerated women or formerly incarcerated women
Incarcerated mothers
Women on probation
Incarcerated or formerly incarcerated Women of color 
Specific racialized and gendered group, e.g. Black women, Latinx women, Native American Women, Black men, Latinx women, Native American men.
Incarcerated men of color
LGTBQIA+ or a particular racialized and gendered group, e.g. trans Women of Color
Incarcerated women with disabilities
Incarcerated low-income, poor communities 
Other groups (talk to Prof. Luna for guidance)

What is a policy brief? (Click here to view UCLA’s Center for the Study of Women student policy briefs examples)
A policy brief is a concise summary presenting research or project findings that addresses an urgent and relevant problem and offers evidence‐based recommendations. It is a practical, rather than academic, document targeting a specific audience – usually policymakers or those interested in formulating or influencing policy ‐ and aiming to prompt change. Policy briefs often contain relevant graphs, data charts, or images and are written with accessible language. A policy brief should:

Educate: Present evidence-based information relevant to reader – insight into topic of interest, uncover a new problem or present new information about existing problem/challenge to understand the problem. Provide information about an alternative. 
Identify. Uncover a problem, identify gap/challenge, describe an important trend or key finding. Include infographics, photos or charts 
Analyze. Provide unique, research-based perspective on the problem and objectively identify possible steps for addressing problems.
Motivate. Encourage the reader to ask more questions; further investigate problem; pursue solutions. Convince the reader that the problem must be addressed urgently. Stimulate the reader to make a decision
Be easy to read.

Check out this handout from the Unviersity of North Carolina-Chapel Hill on policy briefs.
Why learn to write policy briefs?
The purpose of a policy brief is to convince the target audience of the urgency of the current problem and the need to adopt the preferred alternative or course of action outlined. Policy briefs have been shown to be the preferred form of communication by those making policy decisions or aiming to influence policy. A policy brief can provide public officials with valuable information about an issue that can help them justify their votes and funding decisions. Legislative committees and non-profit agencies often prepare policy briefs or fact sheets for stakeholders on particular issues. In fact, research shows that 79% of policy actors from both developing and developed countries rate policy briefs as a ‘key tool’. Policy briefs can help change policy for the better and help make sure policies are based on evidence. Overall, writing policy briefs helps you engage the following research and writing skills and will be an especially important career skill for any student pursuing public health, environmental science, education, social work, or philanthropy:

Convince a specific audience that a problem matters
Clearly present a set of available and feasible options to address that problem
Cogently argue for and against these options
Make specific recommendations to motivate action to address the problem. 

Policy Brief Structure: (Suggested WGSS 2013 Policy Brief Template.docx)

Title: A clear, concise title that communicates the contents of the brief in an impactful way. The reader should know what the brief is about and be compelled to read it from the title. 
Author:  List your name and affiliation in a small font under the title, e.g. Veronica Luna, The University of Texas at San Antonio
Executive Summary: 100-word summary
Context/Scope of Problem: This section discusses the history and relevance of the research problem. Describe context, causes and magnitude of the problem, and why it should be important to the reader. Policy briefs often include relevant graphs, data charts, images, etc. in this section. Convince the reader of the necessity/urgency of policy action. 
Policy Alternatives: This section discusses the current policy and approaches and point out the shortcomings of the current approaches or lack of solutions. Your goal is to illustrate both the need for change and focus of where change needs to occur.
Policy Recommendations: This section contains the most detailed explanation of the 2 recommendations you are proposing. Argue why these policies, programs, or interventions are the most ethical, appropriate recommendations. Acknowledge the limits or biases of the recommendations. 
Conclusion: Brief paragraph to summarize take away findings/recommendations.
“References” page: Please use at least 2 sources from 2 outside sources relevant to your topic.
Module Sources:

Kang ebook: “State, Laws, and Prisons” (link here)
Sudbury, Julia. “Celling Black Bodies: Black Women in the Global Prison Industrial Complex.” Feminist Review, no. 80, 2005, pp. 162–179. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3874373. (link here)
Stanley, Eric A., and Nat Smith. Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex. Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2011. Print. (link here ) 
Southwest of Salem (link to documentary film here)

Suggested outside sources (peer-reviewed article, book, organizational report)

Prison Policy Initiative link here
The Sentencing Project link here
The Marshall Project link here
Lambda Legal link here
The University of Chicago’s Smart Decarceration Project link here
The Innocence Project link here

How do I cite an organization’s report in MLA?

Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Page or Document.” Title of Website, Name of Organization Affiliated with the Website, Date of copyright or date last modified/updated, URL. Accessed access date.
Name of Corporation/Group/Organization. “Title of Section.” Title of Website, Publisher or Sponsoring Organization, Date of publication or last modified date, URL. Accessed access date.

Formatting Guideliness: (Suggested WGSS 2013 Policy Brief Template.docx)

MLA formatting, Times New Roman, 12 point font, 1″ margins all around
Use subheaders to separate different sections
When including relevant graphs, data chart, images, etc. be sure to include a caption, e.g. Figure 1: [description]

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