The Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy is a vibrant intellectual community of faculty, master's and Ph.D. students, researchers, and administrative staff striving to improve public policy and practice in the areas of health care, human services, criminal justice, inequality, education, and labor. Find out more about us.


Forced Out: For Many Poor Americans, Eviction Never Ends – Matthew Desmond
The New Yorker, February 8 & 15, 2016
Housing insecurity is deeply implicated in the creation of poverty. Evictions—once rare occurrences—are now commonplace. This article details the cascade of circumstances leading to eviction faced by a Milwaukee woman and her children.

How New Federal Rules on Solitary Confinement Could Be Just the Start
Christian Science Monitor, January 27, 2016
Advocates of prison reform applaud President Obama’s executive order banning solitary confinement for juveniles and some adults, and hope that states will follow his lead.
Quoted: Vincent Schiraldi

Mayor Walsh Supports New ‘Boston Basics’ Education Campaign
State of the City Address, January 19, 2016
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced his support for the ‘Boston Basics’ Campaign, developed by the Achievement Gap Initiative, in his State of the City address on Jan. 19. The ‘Boston Basics’ Campaign, which includes videos and printed materials, introduces five parenting principles that, when practiced, give children a positive start in life and help them get ready for school.

The Importance of High-School Mentors
The Atlantic, January 13, 2016
For all young people to succeed, they need access to a network of formal and informal mentors, according to education experts.
Quoted: Christopher Avery

A Most Violent Year: What the Left and Right Got Wrong About Crime in 2015 – Thomas Abt
The Marshall Project, January 11, 2015
Heated commentary from both sides of the political divide tends to obscure existing, practical solutions toward reducing violence.

Lowering healthcare spending by tackling non-medical issues
Marketplace - January 8, 2016
Federal health officials announce CMS study to see if organizing patient health care based on unmet social needs (food insecurity, domestic violence, and unemployment) could improve treatment and reduce costs.
Quoted: Amitabh Chandra

Racial Identity, and Its Hostilities, Are on the Rise in American Politics
The New York Times, January 5, 2016
Political analysts and politicians struggle to understand why working-class Americans vote as they do.
Cited: William Julius Wilson

Capital Punishment’s Persistence
Harvard Magazine, January-February 2016
Moshik Temkin compares the political process to end capital punishment in the United States with that of France (which abolished the death penalty in 1981).
Quoted: Moshik Temkin

At 80, W.J. Wilson, Scholar of Race and Class, Looks Ahead
Associated Press, December 28, 2015
William Julius Wilson’s scholarship continues to influence the national discussion of inequality and extreme poverty.
Quoted: William Julius Wilson

Do Republicans Really Want the Black and Latino Vote? – Leah Wright Rigueur
The Root, December 15, 2015
The spectacle of the 2016 campaign—with its reactionary rhetoric—invites comparison with the 1964 campaign of Barry Goldwater. 

One Word Explains the Collapse of Ben Carson
Washington Post, December 15, 2015
Columnist Jonathan Capehart argues that Carson’s early rise in the polls was due to his race: Republicans rallied around him as an answer to President Obama.
Quoted: Leah Wright Rigueur

The Other Side of Black Lives Matter – William Julius Wilson
Brookings.com, December 14, 2015
Wilson has been appointed a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. This is his first blog post for the series Social Mobility Memos.

A Nuanced Take on Healthcare Consumerism
Forbes, December 14, 2015
Four experts shed light on the national debate over healthcare and the competing philosophies swirling around it.
Quoted: Amitabh Chandra

The Myth of ‘Consumer-Driven Healthcare' Comes to Life Again
The Los Angeles Times, December 14, 2015
In the best scenario, patients would have enough information to make smart choices and save money. But making healthcare decisions is not like buying a car.
Quoted: Amitabh Chandra

Raise the Minimum Age a Juvenile Can Be Tried as an Adult to 21 – Vincent Schiraldi
The New York Times, December 14, 2015
Founders of juvenile court in the 19th century arbitrarily chose the age of 18 as the end of childhood. But today’s young people mature more slowly, and research shows their brains are not fully formed until their mid-20s.

Immigration Might Be Good for the U.S. But Not for All Americans – George J. Borjas
Marketwatch, December 10, 2015
The impact of increased immigration on the U.S. economy isn’t as clear-cut as some politicians and pundits would like to believe.
Quoted: George J. Borjas

Opportunity, Responsibility, and Security: A Consensus Plan for Reducing Poverty and Restoring the American Dream
AEI | Brookings Economic Studies, December 3, 2015
Fifteen experts on poverty, reflecting diverse ideological and intellectual perspectives, worked over 14 months to identify core areas of agreement and to craft a comprehensive plan.
Expert: David Ellwood

Why Connecticut May Try 21-Year-Olds as Juveniles – Vincent Schiraldi
Christian Science Monitor, November 18, 2015
The Connecticut governor’s proposal to increase the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 18 to 21 reflects new research on the social and psychological development of young adults.

Race-Baiting for the Presidency – Theodore R. Johnson and Leah Wright Rigueur
The Atlantic, November 18, 2015
Leah Wright Rigueur and co-author Theodore R. Johnson write about how candidates in past U.S. presidential campaigns have used “coded” language to influence voters.

Electing to Ignore the Poorest of the Poor – William Julius Wilson, Matthew Desmond
The New York Times, November 17, 2015
Candidates in the U.S. presidential race are saying very little about extreme poverty, despite signs that the time may be ripe for a bipartisan effort.

Juvenile Incarceration Is a Dickensian Nightmare: The Shameful Ravages of Mass Incarceration – Vincent Schiraldi
Salon, November 17, 2015
Q+A with Vincent Schiraldi about his experiences as a former corrections official and what he witnessed that drives his passion for reform.

Good Reasons to Raise Age for Juvenile Justice – Vincent Schiraldi
Hartford Courant, November 17, 2015
Marc Schindler and Vincent Schiraldi look at the reasoning behind Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy’s proposal to increase the age of juvenile jurisdiction to 21.

Recrafting the Electoral College – Alex Keyssar
Harvard Political Review, November 16, 2015
Pundits and the public have called for changes to the winner-takes-all Electoral College process, but prospects for reform appear slim.

What’s Past Is Prologue – Kathryn Edin, Bruce Western, William Julius Wilson
The Harvard Gazette, November 12, 2015
Best-selling author and 2015 MacArthur Fellow Ta-Nehisi Coates addressed the JFK Jr. Forum, where he talked about race, criminality, and mass incarceration.

What Mass Incarceration Looks Like for Juveniles – Vincent Schiraldi
The New York Times, November 10, 2015
The conditions inside juvenile detention facilities are poisonous to young people and staff members alike, and they harm, rather than improve public safety.

'Intersection with Jamil Smith': The Loneliness of the Black Republican - Leah Wright Rigueur
New Republic, November 3, 2015
African Americans have voted largely Democratic over the last 40 years. History shows a fractured relationship with the GOP, which has deepened over time.

Ban the box: President Obama’s plan to help ex-prisoners get jobs, explained - Devah Pager and Bruce Western
Vox, November 2, 2015
Having a job is critical for ex-offenders trying to stay out of prison. But the stigma of incarceration makes their job search difficult, if not impossible.

Ben Carson Is Inspiring, but Not for President - Devah Pager
The New York Times, October 31, 2015
The GOP candidate may serve better as a role model for disadvantaged young people than as a presidential nominee.

School testing a mixed bag, study says - Christopher Jencks
Harvard Gazette, October 30, 2015
School testing in Texas in the 1990's had positive effects on some students and negative effects on others, according to research.

New Study Outlines Impacts of Higher Health Insurance Deductibles - Amitabh Chandra
Harvard Kennedy School, October 22, 2015
Higher deductibles are changing the way that consumers use their health care, and in a potentially detrimental fashion.

When Does Accountability Work? - Christopher Jencks
Education Next, Winter 2016
This study shows that mandated standardized testing benefits previously lower achieving students, but had negative effects when focused on improving poor performing schools.

How Ben Carson Went from Folk Hero to Conservative Rock Star - Leah Wright Rigueur
TIME, October 6, 2015
Views on the GOP candidate's conservatism have evolved since his popular autobiography was released in 1992.

The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration - Devah Pager, Bruce Western, William Julius Wilson
The Atlantic, October, 2015
The effects of mass incarceration, from poverty and crime to the destabilization of black families, is discussed in this long-form piece.

Matthew Desmond, Co-chair of Center’s Justice & Poverty Project, Named 2015 MacArthur Foundation Fellow.
MacArthur Foundation, September 29, 2015
(Watch Matthew Desmond on YouTube)

How Ben Carson felt when he fell victim to stereotyping - Alexander Keyssar
Washington Post, September 23, 2015
Carson's generalization about Muslims spotlights the irony of an African American deeming a group of people unfit for presidency based on a stereotype.

Bruce Western, Other HKS Voices Join in the Debate About the Criminal Justice System in America - Bruce Western
John F. Kennedy School of Government, September 14, 2015
The escalation of mass incarceration has resulted in the incarceration of "entire social groups".

Time to Rethink How Young Adults are Punished, Experts Say - Vincent Schiraldi
National Public Radio, September 11, 2015
Research on the brain development of adults aged 18-25 raises a discussion regarding the degree of punishment they should face in court.

Mass Incarceration, Visualized - Bruce Western
The Atlantic, September 11, 2015
A video produced on the topic of mass incarceration highlights the ways in which the black community, and black families, are affected.

Vincent Schiraldi, Noted Criminal Justice Reformer, to Lead Program in Criminal Justice (PCJ)
Harvard Kennedy School, September 10, 2015

Walsh asks licensed gun owners to help stop city gun violence - Anthony Braga
The Boston Globe, September 9, 2015
Boston's mayor asks gun owners to report the sale, theft, or loss of any firearm in order to curb violence.

Executive Session on Community Corrections Inaugural Report "Community-Based Responses to Justice-Involved Young Adults" Released – Bruce Western, Kendra Bradner, Vincent Schiraldi
PCJ Executive Session on Community Corrections, September 9, 2015
Report details the issue of justice-involved young adults, the challenges they present, and the significant opportunities that exist for reform.

Why My Answer to Dr. King Would Be: 52 Years Later, We Are Still Working on That Dream - William Julius Wilson
The Huffington Post, August 28, 2015
Interpersonal Relationship Violence, its disproportionate effect on the black and Latino communities, and its societal causes, are discussed.

Voters want candidates to address drug prices - Robert Blendon
Boston Globe, August 26, 2015
High prescription drug costs will become more important to voters as breakthrough treatments cause prices to rise.

The false assumptions underlying Trump’s immigration plan - George Borjas
The Washington Post, August 18, 2015
Researchers have varying opinions on the effect of immigration on U.S. born workers.

The Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power - Leah Wright Rigueur
New Books in American Studies, August 16, 2015
Rigueur's book examines the way black Republicans operate within a political party that has evolved from Lincoln's GOP to its present state.

David Simon of ’The Wire’ finds drama in public housing. But will the public tune in? - William Julius Wilson
The Washington Post, July 30, 2015
David Simon's new project depicts characters whose circumstances are shaped by the politics of public housing in Yonkers in the 80's and 90's.

Traceability key if biosimilars are to compete, cut costs - Amitabh Chandra
Managed Care Magazine, July 21, 2015
Due to the complexity of manufacturing biosimilars, their impact on the marketplace may be limited.

You Just Got Out of Prison. Now What? - Bruce Western
New York Times, July 16, 2015
The "re-entry movement" strives to find housing and job training for newly released prisoners, but often overlooks the psychological effects of re-entry.

More News & Events


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Upcoming Event:
Feb. 17 – 4:00 PM

Belfer Case Study Room
CGIS South Bldg. @ Harvard
The Alexis de Tocqueville Lecture: A Conversation with Bruce Western and Artist Stephen Tourlentes on U.S. prisons.

Jan. 25 – 6:30 PM
The Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management hosted Raising the Age of Juvenile Court in Connecticut: A Conversation with Governor Dannel Malloy. Watch the video.

Governor Dannel Malloy

A Conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates
This Nov. 11 JFK. Jr. Forum event highlighted the bestselling author's gift for sober reflection and trenchant social commentary. Watch the video in the Forum archives.

Ta-Nehisi Coates


A new study, “The Distributional Consequences of Public School Choice,” by Christopher Avery raises questions about school choice and the outcomes for students and neighborhoods.

A new Achievement Gap Initiative report, "The Influence of Teaching," analyzes how components of teaching predict educational outcomes that tests do not measure, such as student engagement, success mindsets, and agency.