Ayako Nakano, J.D. student
Examines unconstitutionality of homelessness discrimination
• Hometown: Chapel Hill, North Carolina and San Jose, California
• Faculty mentor/advisor: Professor Lorie Schweer
• What is your degree program and expected graduate date? Juris Doctorate. May 2022
• Please describe your research: My research discusses how various city ordinances in California that criminalize homelessness by prohibiting or severely restricting living in cars are unconstitutional under several theories. One theory I discuss is that these ordinances are unconstitutional as a form of cruel and unusual punishment.
• In simple terms, why does this research matter? The criminalization of homelessness is a tool used by the cities to marginalize and discriminate against people experiencing homelessness. Law journal articles are valuable because they are often where courts and lawyers begin their research, and it may one day influence a judge to rule in one direction or another.
• How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? One year.
• How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Having to create a persuasive piece of writing gave me an opportunity to become a better researcher and analytical thinker.
• What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? Work in law representing indigent clients.
• Does your research have connections to or implications for COVID-19? Please explain. Yes, homelessness in CA is expected to rise as a result of COVID-19.
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