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Crystal Yang

  • Supreme Court may halt health care guarantees for inmates

    March 3, 2023

    A new paper published in the March 2 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine argues a minimal standard for inmate health care established…

  • A life’s mission sparked by disbelief over Tuskegee study

    October 12, 2021

    Marcella Alsan was in Professor Allan M. Brandt’s undergraduate class on the history of medicine and public health in America when she first learned about the infamous Tuskegee study, the federal government’s 40-year experiment observing the effects of untreated syphilis on Black men without their knowledge....Reaching out to scholars and practitioners in different disciplines to get at difficult questions in a “holistic” way is a hallmark of Alsan’s approach, said Crystal S. Yang, a Harvard Law School professor and Harvard-trained economist researching COVID-related health conditions in the criminal justice system with Alsan. ... “She’s the hardest-working person I know and is always pushing people to be better,” said Yang. “She’s always trying to teach the students about the right types of questions to ask, or how to do a certain type of analysis for randomized controlled trials. She’s just such a good role model for younger folks who are interested in doing this type of work.”

  • Illustration of an open laptop with images of four people, on a desk with a lamp, plant, cup of coffee. Laptop is connected to a cloud and work related images.

    COVID adaptation

    August 26, 2020

    As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the globe, affecting every aspect of human society, Harvard Law School finds itself at a pivotal moment in legal education. From the crisis, and the challenges and opportunities of remote learning, it is wresting pedagogical innovations that are transforming what it means to get a legal education.

  • A COVID‐19 crisis in US jails and prisons

    August 7, 2020

    To fight the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) pandemic, public health officials have implemented a range of social distancing measures aimed at reducing the risk of person‐to‐person transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‐CoV‐2). However, physical separation can be nearly impossible in confined spaces such as jails, prisons, and detention centers throughout the United States. Indeed, experts believe that overcrowding, together with a lack of testing, inadequate infection control measures, and shortages of basic supplies for both staff and inmates, has fueled massive outbreaks in US correctional facilities. The revelations have spurred uncomfortable questions about how the facilities perpetuate and exacerbate racial disparities and how inadequate testing can blind public health officials to emerging hotspots...In March, Dr. Alsan and Crystal S. Yang, PhD, JD, AM, a law professor at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, launched a project with the National Commission on Correctional Health Care to survey jails, prisons, and juvenile detention facilities across the United States. Over a 2‐month period, the collaborators received responses about COVID‐19 case counts, testing, and screening procedures and about ongoing challenges from hundreds of sites in all but a handful of states. So far, the data have revealed at least 2 startling findings. Toward the end of the weekly surveys, the researchers began asking facilities about the race and ethnicity of COVID‐19–positive inmates. “The incidence rate of cases and suspected cases for African Americans was, from week to week, anywhere from 2 to 4 times higher than for white inmates,” Dr. Yang says.

  • Assessing the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on correctional institutions

    April 13, 2020

    Across the country and the world, communities are working feverishly to measure the coronavirus pandemic’s impact — struggling with shortages of tests and depleted health care capabilities to gauge the numbers of the infected, the sick, and the dead. Accurate data is the first vital step in understanding the scope of the problem and developing and calibrating the best response. But, as the world moves to lockdown and social isolation, what is happening to the approximately 2.3 million people behind bars in the United States and to the tens of thousands who work in those facilities — line officers, administrators, nurses, therapists, doctors? Harvard Kennedy School Professor of Public Policy Marcella Alsan and Harvard Law School Professor of Law Crystal Yang have teamed up with the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) to conduct the first detailed survey on the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the country’s prisons, jails, and juvenile detention facilities. HKS discusses their groundbreaking work, what it tells us about the spread and treatment of the disease among some of the most vulnerable populations, and how this valuable data can guide practitioners and policymakers.

  • Researchers release first detailed survey on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on correctional facilities in the United States

    April 10, 2020

    A survey by Crystal Yang and Marcella Alsan: A collaboration between Harvard University researchers and the National Commission on Correctional Health Care has yielded the first detailed survey on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on correctional facilities in the United States. The ongoing survey has so far collected data from more than 320 facilities housing approximately 10 percent of the country’s inmates across 47 states. While not necessarily representative of all correctional institutions, the results nonetheless are vital for policymakers responding to the pandemic in their own states and communities. Among the key findings: Correctional officers, like the general population, are at risk for contracting of COVID-19 infection, with a higher infection rate than inmates. Many protocols call for screening inmates and staff for COVID-19 on a regular basis, but a significant fraction of facilities still lack access to lab testing. The nationwide shortage of PPE as well as ancillary supplies (such as cleaning products and thermometer probes) is also a problem for correctional health care operations.

  • Researchers release first detailed survey on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on correctional facilities in the United States

    April 9, 2020

    A collaboration between Harvard University researchers and the National Commission on Correctional Health Care has yielded the first detailed survey on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on correctional facilities in the United States.

  • Crystal Yang

    Faculty Voices: Crystal Yang ’13 on fear and the safety net

    January 31, 2020

    Professor Crystal Yang ’13 discusses her paper "Fear and the Safety Net: Evidence from Secure Communities," which examines the link between tougher immigration enforcement in the United States and the lack of participation in government safety-net programs by Hispanic citizens.

  • German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier

    At Harvard Law, German President Steinmeier discusses digital technology ethics

    November 5, 2019

    On Nov. 1, German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier discussed the "Ethics of Digital Transformation" at an event hosted by Harvard's Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.

  • 2019 faculty hires

    New this year for HLS faculty

    September 12, 2019

    With the start of the academic year, four new scholars have joined the ranks of the Harvard Law School faculty and two have been promoted to professor of law.

  • Crystal Yang

    Crystal Yang ’13 named professor of law at Harvard Law School

    June 24, 2019

    Crystal Yang ’13, a law and economics scholar who focuses her teaching and research on empirical law and economics, was promoted to professor of law at Harvard Law School effective July 1, 2019.

  • Crystal Yang

    Crystal Yang: An Empirical Approach

    January 29, 2019

    Assistant Professor Crystal Yang ’13, who joined the HLS faculty in 2014, brings an empirical focus to the study of criminal law. Yang, who holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard, has in the past focused her empirical studies on criminal sentencing. She has now turned her attention to the extensive use of cash bail and pretrial detention in the U.S., in order to understand their short- and long-term consequences.

  • The perverse side effects of America’s harsh immigration policies

    August 15, 2018

    ...Two new papers look at the effects of the programme in its earlier incarnation. They find that it succeeded in its stated goal of removing undocumented workers—but it also reduced access to jobs, health care and nutrition for migrants and citizens alike...Marcella Alsan of Stanford University and Crystal Yang of Harvard University looked at access to welfare and health-care enrollment...Ms Alsan and Ms Yang found that the rollout of Secure Communities was associated with a 10% decline in food-stamp use among eligible Hispanic households. They also estimate that health-care coverage under the Affordable Care Act would have been 22% higher among eligible Hispanic households had Secure Communities not been in place, because of fears that any interaction with officials might lead to friends or family being deported.

  • Legal U.S. immigrants may be scared to sign up for benefits

    August 6, 2018

    The Trump administration's immigration crackdown may be leading to an unintended consequence: a drop-off in benefits enrollment among legal Hispanic immigrants. An immigration program called Secure Communities, which was rolled out during the Obama administration, is linked to a lower take-up of benefits such as food stamps and health care enrollment, according to a recent study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The researchers found Hispanic households were particularly hard-hit, even those with legal immigration status. "We find evidence that our results may be driven by deportation fear rather than lack of benefit information or stigma," wrote Marcella Alsan of Stanford Medical School and Crystal Yang of Harvard Law School in the paper.

  • Why Crackdown Fears May Keep Legal Immigrants From Food Stamps

    July 24, 2018

    ...The National Bureau of Economic Research study found that in the decade before Donald Trump took office, there might have been a correlation between deportation fears and the drop-off in the number of Latino immigrants enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as food stamps, and the Affordable Care Act insurance program, also known as Obamacare. Researchers looked at Latino enrollment in food stamps between 2006 and 2016, the most recent year for which data is available. They found that after the federal government began stepping up deportation efforts, Latino immigrant enrollment in SNAP and the ACA dropped...Declines in SNAP and ACA enrollment were largest in “mixed status” households where some people are in the country legally and some are not, the study found. For example, one family member may be a citizen, another an asylee or a permanent resident, and still another undocumented. “There’s a fear of exposing family members,” said Crystal Yang, assistant professor of law at Harvard Law School, one of the report’s authors.

  • Black Defendants Get Longer Sentences From Republican-Appointed Judges, Study Finds

    May 29, 2018

    Judges appointed by Republican presidents gave longer sentences to black defendants and shorter ones to women than judges appointed by Democrats, according to a new study that analyzed data on more than half a million defendants. “Republican-appointed judges sentence black defendants to three more months than similar nonblacks and female defendants to two fewer months than similar males compared with Democratic-appointed judges,” the study found, adding, “These differences cannot be explained by other judge characteristics and grow substantially larger when judges are granted more discretion.” The study was conducted by two professors at Harvard Law School, Alma Cohen and Crystal S. Yang. They examined the sentencing practices of about 1,400 federal trial judges over more than 15 years, relying on information from the Federal Judicial Center, the United States Sentencing Commission and the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

  • Black defendants receive longer prison terms from Republican-appointed judges, study finds

    May 24, 2018

    Federal judges appointed by Republican presidents give black defendants sentences that are, on average, six to seven months longer than the sentences they give to similar white defendants, according to a new working paper from Alma Cohen and Crystal Yang of Harvard Law School. That racial sentencing disparity is about twice as large as the one observed among judges appointed by Democrats, who give black defendants sentences that are three to four months longer than the sentences they give to white defendants with similar histories who commit similar crimes...“Overall, these results indicate that judicial ideology may be a source of the persistent and large racial and gender disparities in the criminal justice system,” Cohen and Yang conclude.

  • Bail Reform Vs. The Politics of Fear

    April 5, 2018

    All over America, people have been demanding real bail reform including but not limited to ending the practice of cash bail. So what is cash bail? Cash bail is when a judge decides to assign a cash amount as the price for an accused defendant to be released from jail on their own recognizance or with conditions...As more and more jurisdictions across the country have passed bail reform legislation, the bail industry is starting to push back emphasizing a counter-narrative built entirely using the politics of fear...But, let’s not mince words here, the entire argument is BS, the VAST majority of defendants stuck in jail because of cash bail are accused of minor crimes as Crystal Yang, an Assistant Professor of Law at Harvard Law School explained in her recent New York University Law Review article: “On any given day, the United States detains almost half a million individuals before trial, with over 60% of the U.S. jail population comprised of individuals who have not yet been convicted."