Crime and Punishment
T-Th 10:00 - 11:20 (D38)
Great Britain's incarceration rate is quite high by world standards: 142 of every 100,000 Britons are currently in jail. That number in China is 118 per 100,00, in France 91, in Japan 58, and in Nigeria 31. The U.S. currently imprisons almost 800 of every 100,000 citizens. In other words, one out of every 135 Americans is currently serving time in jail or prison.
Nearly half of the resulting U.S. prison population Ã¢â‚¬â€œ which now numbers almost 2.5 million -- is African American, while African Americans make up only 12% of the U.S. population. And according to a United Nations study, in all the prisons in the world outside the U.S., there are currently 12 minors serving life sentences. In U.S. Prisons today there are more than 2,000.
In this seminar we will examine the reality of crime and punishment in the United States. We will begin by studying cases, to build a sense of the principles and practices behind criminal law and criminal sentencing. Then we will move to the deeper level: we will examine the reasoning for and against the death penalty as decisions on death penalty cases. We will then examine the crminal justice system iteself, asking a simple question: How did the U.S. find itself with the highest incarceration rate in the world? How are we to judge the costs and benefits of American crime and punishment?
As in any writing seminar, we will write about all of it: expect at least three major papers, culminating in a research paper of your own design, and weekly shorter writing assignments. Discussions of the text will alternate with work on writing: conferences, writing workshops and discussions of style and structure.