Course description

This course introduces problems (and proposed solutions) within the American criminal justice system. The focus is primarily on American policing, jails and prisons, criminal legal policy, and the court system. We begin by unpacking the historical roots and modern day manifestations of racial and socioeconomic disparities within the legal system. We use this information to critically examine the sociopolitical reverberations and repercussions caused by these disparities and institutional harms. Subsequently, we critically discuss a range of proposed solutions ranging from mandating police body cameras to fundamentally recreating systems of safety and accountability. Throughout the course, we discuss the policy process and the social and political dynamics that enable or impede institutional change.


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