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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Ann C Frost
POL S 464
Seattle Campus

The Politics of American Criminal Justice

Political forces and value choices associated with the enforcement of criminal law. Distribution of resources among participants in the criminal justice system (e.g., police, attorneys, defendants, and judges). Understanding and evaluation of the interaction of criminal justice processes with the political system.

Class description

This course will cover the political complexities that are inherent in the American system of criminal justice. In order to focus the topic, the course will look at the criminal justice system through the example of the war on drugs and it's attendant policies. We will study issues that are central to the politics of criminal justice, such as the influence of and interaction between players such as legislators, police, lawyers defendants, and the public. We will also address the more inflamatory issues that are integral to the topic, such as the rise of the American carceral state, race relations, and the fomentation of the public's fear of crime and drugs to promote the drug war.

Student learning goals

Students will understand the political nature of relationships between police officers, defendants, judges, lawyers, and others involved in the criminal justice system.

Students will engage with essential concepts of the criminal justice system and apply them to real life examples, including current events.

Students will critically assess the state of race relations and how they impact policymaking in the criminal justice system.

General method of instruction

The class will be conducted through lectures and class discussions.

Recommended preparation

No prerequisites.

Class assignments and grading

Assignments for the course will include two short papers and one longer final paper.

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: 05/06/2011