Examines role of police, courts, and corrections in criminal justice. Applies sociological theories and perspectives to issues in law enforcement, adjudication, and corrections. Legislative reforms. Innovations in policy.
The United States incarcerates more of its residents than any other nation in the world. One out of every 200 U.S. residents was behind bars in 2009, up from about one out of every 1000 residents in 1980. The extraordinary growth in the prison population over the past 30-40 years raises a number of questions about how our society defines crime and justice, the institutions we have built to address issues of crime and justice, and the social impacts of these institutions. How have social and political forces helped to shape the way that we perceive crime? Does the system we have built succeed in delivering justice? How close is the relationship between crime and punishment? How can we explain the high rate of incarceration in the U.S., as compared to other nations? What sort of impacts does our justice system have on individuals, communities, governments, and crime rates? This course is not intended to be a general overview of criminal justice in the U.S., but rather a critical reflection on how the system operates.
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