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Publication Date

Winter 2010

Abstract

The New York City Human Resources Administration has implemented a policy that has a punitive and disproportionate impact on poor families of color. The policy departs from the legislative mandate to support New York’s neediest and most at risk by arbitrarily excluding incarceration from the definition of “temporary absence,” as it applies to the Cash Assistance program. Aside from the discriminatory impact on poor children and families, the policy decision comes at a higher cost to New York taxpayers in the midst of a financial crisis. This Comment evaluates the legal flaws in the policy, the persons it targets, the families it affects, and how it must be remedied in order to truly promote self-sufficiency and survival for New Yorkers in need.

Acknowledgements

The author would like to give appreciative acknowledgement to Leslie Boutin, Juan Cartagena, Paul Keefe, Michelle Light, Diane Wenzler, and Barbara Zerzan for their assistance in producing data, initially conceptualizing the problem, and developing research on the issue dur- ing my summer internship at the Community Service Society. McGregor Smyth of Bronx Defenders and Susan Antos of Empire Justice Center also offered thoughtful critique and insight to improve the piece. Finally, the author would like to extend a special thanks to Professor Ruthann Robson for her guidance and encouragement and to Professor Andrea McArdle for her additional suggestions and relentless optimism.

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