Emilia Calma

Director of Policy & Research
D.C. Policy Center

Emilia is the Director of Policy & Research at the D.C. Policy Center. Her research focuses on racial equity, health equity, social policy, and workforce issues in the District of Columbia. Emilia has previously served as the Co-Director of the Policy Innovation Lab at Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy and a Fellow at the Montgomery County Council.

Emilia holds a Bachelor of Arts from Carleton College and Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy.

You can reach Emilia at emilia@dcpolicycenter.org.

Written By Emilia Calma

Map of the week: Where are D.C. Code offenders housed today?

The average distance between D.C. Code offenders and their communities and families is farther than the average distance in other states. The average distance between D.C. and D.C. Code offenders in BOP facilities is 818 miles.6 While there is no recently available data on the U.S. as a whole, one study from 2001 found that the average distance between an incarcerated male and his home or family is 100 miles across all states, and the average distance between an incarcerated female and her home or family is 160 miles.

March 10, 2023 | Emilia Calma

How much would it cost to build and maintain a new D.C. prison?

Amid ongoing work toward D.C. statehood, an outstanding question is the cost of the District fully re-assuming responsibility for its criminal justice system. One of the most talked-about components of that re-assuming is that the District would need its own prison. Our research suggests that building a new prison for 4,000 to 6,000 inmates could cost between $400 million and $750 million. The annual operating costs for such a facility would range between $180 million and $230 million.

March 8, 2023 | Emilia Calma

A look at who is incarcerated in D.C.’s criminal justice system

The District’s criminal justice system is largely federalized, and individuals may be held either locally by the District’s Department of Corrections (DOC). or federally by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP). What do we know about the individuals incarcerated within D.C.’s criminal justice system? How does D.C.’s uniquely federalized system impact D.C. Code offenders, and what does it mean for their access to rehabilitation programs during their incarceration?

March 6, 2023 | Emilia Calma

Processing through D.C.’s criminal justice system: Agencies, roles, and jurisdiction

A long list of entities and agencies make up the District’s criminal justice system. Which ones are local, and which are federal? What are their individual responsibilities, and how are they funded? Finally, how does an individual D.C. Code offender process through this complicated stream of entities?

March 2, 2023 | Emilia Calma

How D.C.’s criminal justice system has been shaped by the Revitalization Act

What does the history of D.C.’s criminal justice system look like, and what changes were enacted under the Revitalization Act? As part of Criminal Justice Week 2023, this introduction to the District’s criminal justice system outlines its current structure, analyzes Revitalization Act changes have impacted justice system operations, and evaluates outcomes for D.C. residents. 

March 1, 2023 | Emilia Calma

The District of Columbia’s Criminal Justice System under the Revitalization Act: How the system works, how it has changed, and how the changes impact the District of Columbia

The District’s criminal justice system is complex and involves an overlapping system of agencies and organizations that are a mix of federally funded and under federal jurisdiction, federally funded and independently operated, locally funded and under local jurisdiction; and locally funded and independently operated. This unique configuration of entities with disparate leadership—which makes cooperation challenging, and systems change complicated—is the direct result of the federal Revitalization Act of 1997.

March 1, 2023 | Emilia Calma

Testimony on Bill 24-0712, the “Domestic Worker Employment Rights Amendment Act of 2022”

In contrast to its stated intent, the bill may reduce opportunities for the most vulnerable workers. Little is known about the demographics and number of domestic workers in the District, and the bill does not examine the impact employment agreements will have on workers. By formalizing employment agreements, the bill may close doors to workers whose immigration status cannot be verified.

June 16, 2022 | Emilia Calma

The case for investing in trauma-informed management practices in the workplace: Knowledge, practice, and policy that can improve life outcomes in the District of Columbia

Individuals with trauma responses can face great difficulties in finding and retaining a job. Trauma responses oftentimes make it difficult for workers to handle everyday stressors at work. While many publicly-funded job training programs have adopted a trauma-informed approach, it is rare to find private employers who have adopted trauma-informed management practices as these changes are often considered difficult and outside of the scope of management.

March 30, 2022 | Emilia Calma

D.C. high school alumni reflections on their early career outcomes

Introduction Data exist on D.C.’s public and public charter school students’ high school graduation rates and student’s enrollment in postsecondary education six months after graduation. But beyond that six-month mark, in terms of publicly available data the picture goes dark: there is very little qualitative or quantitative information on early career outcomes…

November 10, 2021 | Emilia Calma

Observed disparities between 911 calls and crash reports

In D.C., the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is responsible for planning and building the city’s transportation infrastructure, including where bicycle lanes, crosswalks, and safety features are installed. When making decisions about public infrastructure investments, DDOT relies on public crash data provided by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) to understand where crashes happen in…

October 5, 2021 | Emilia Calma

The case for creating a local talent pipeline in the District of Columbia

The District of Columbia and the greater Washington metropolitan area have always been great places to live and work. High wages, high quality of life, and a stable hiring environment with a depth of talent has attracted workers from all parts of the nation and all corners of the world. Data from…

April 29, 2021 | Emilia Calma

Testimony of Emilia Calma on the “Sense of the Council to Declare Racism A Public Health Crisis” (Resolution 23-0990)

Good evening, Chairman Gray and members of the Committee on Health. My name is Emilia Calma and I am the Director of Research and Policy for the D.C. Policy Center, an independent, nonpartisan think tank committed to advancing policies for a strong and vibrant economy in the District of Columbia. I thank…

November 5, 2020 | Emilia Calma

The geography of environmental toxins in the District of Columbia

Living in a toxin-free environment is essential to people’s mental and physical health. Being exposed to chemicals from pollution in soil, air, and water has wide ranging health effects including acute asthma symptoms, hormone disruption, decreased mental ability, and cancer. A U.S. national environmental quality index determined that there are over 30…

October 15, 2020 | Emilia Calma

Road to recovery: What we have learned from other cities’ and states’ responses to COVID-19

Introduction October marks the seventh month of closures and job losses due to COVID-19. To combat the health and economic impacts of the pandemic, many jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia, have implemented emergency measures; adopted short-term policies to cushion the initial shocks, and are now looking for longer-term policies to aid…

October 6, 2020 | Emilia Calma