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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Ann C Frost
LSJ 377
Seattle Campus

Punishment: Theory and Practice

Examines the philosophical reasoning that underlies punishment practices such as sentencing, imprisonment, or capital punishment. Considers policy issues in these areas in light of theories about morality and human nature. Helps students learn how to analyze punishment policies from ethical and philosophical perspectives.

Class description

This course will focus on punishment in the American criminal justice system, highlighting both intended and unintended consequences of various methods of punishment. In focusing on punishment in the criminal justice system, the intended outcomes would include punishment and rehabilitation of offenders, deterrence to future potential offenders, restitution for victims, reduction of crime, and education for the community. Equally important will be analysis of the unintended outcomes of punishment. These would include failure to rehabilitate, institutionalization of offenders, causes of recidivism including conditions in prison and how inmates 'learn' to incorporate illegal activities into their lives, racial injustices, the failure to impact crime rates, and the repeating cycle that many offenders become trapped in as a result of their involvement in the criminal justice system.

Student learning goals

Students will understand the theories behind various methods of punishment and how they have developed in the American criminal justice system. Students will critically assess the consequences of various methods of punishment, both intended and unintended. Students will engage with the political aspects of relative successes and failures of methods of punishment as well as injustices that often result from various methods of punishment. Students will apply concepts learned in class to real life examples, including current events.

General method of instruction

The class will be conducted through lectures, class discussion, and student presentations.

Recommended preparation

No prerequisites.

Class assignments and grading

Assignments for the course will include two short papers and one longer final paper. Students will also be expected to participate actively in class discussions, and will be required to present a summary of readings one time during the quarter.

Participation: 15%; short papers: 25% each; final paper: 35%.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Ann C Frost
Date: 12/10/2012