Policy Fellow Interview Featuring Jessica Seigel

Posted by Blake Wright on April 10, 2014 at 11:38 AM

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Name: Jessica Seigel 

School: Swarthmore College, Class of 2016

Major: I am majoring in Political Science and double minoring in Public Policy and Peace and Conflict Studies

Coolest thing you have ever done? I once swam with sharks at Adventure Aquarium. You don't realize quite how terrifying, and beautiful, they are until you're close enough to touch them. I now want to go on a cage dive in the ocean with Great Whites, but it may take a little longer to make that happen. 

Why did you apply to be a policy fellow? I started the CSA chapter at Swarthmore and found it was so frustrating trying to motivate and mobilize other students. It made me realize just how important, and necessary CSA is. As soon as I was able to sit down with my peers and educate them on how serious the political issues are, and how immediately our generation needs to act, they wanted to become involved. I applied to be a policy fellow in order to continue educating others, and also to help myself better learn how to write and rationalize policy. 

What area of policy are you most interested in? I spent last summer researching and writing on the effects of incarceration on families and children and potential policies to alleviate this burden. While my primary concentration is incarceration reform, I am also very interested in education (specifically universal pre-K) and infrastructure. I'm currently working on a research project about the important implications of commuter rails that run from impoverished suburbs to cities, and how they potentially allow for mobility and job growth. All of my policy interests really focus on fixing institutional issues to decrease inequality. 

What is your biggest goal pertaining to public policy? How are you going to change the world? I plan on pursuing a career in politics.  My goal is to continue the bipartisan work I have done with Common Sense Action by searching for more bipartisan policy solutions to pressing policy issues. There are a lot of policy areas where compromise could be reached, and agreements could be finalized that would satisfy everyone. I think that incarceration reform is one of the places where this really can begin, and I believe that we could see this in the near future.  I hope to help accomplish this by working at a think tank, government agency, or in legislature. 

If you could get any policy passed what would it be? There are some small policy changes that could have an enormous impact, and I think funding and growing reintegration programs for convicts is one of those policies. Recidivism rates are so high, and the cost of re-incarcerating an ex-convict and holding them in prison are less than that of providing them with job training, parenting classes, mental health support, and other rehabilitative measures. Parenting classes alone have been shown to increase the sense of efficacy and ability that convicts feel they possess. The classes also potentially provide them with a purpose, and can help give their life meaning upon release that discourages them from committing a crime again. Reducing the number of people incarcerated and lowering recidivism rates will decrease prison costs and provide the government with funds that can be in a more effective manner. They could be put towards areas like education.