Corrections, Punishment, and Public Policy
This introductory course will familiarize students with the history, structure, and performance of America's corrections system. Corrections deals with the implementation and evaluation of criminal sentences after they are handed down. This course will cover probation, jails, prison, parole, and prisoner reentry. We will also discuss special populations (e.g., mentally ill, sex offenders), mass incarceration, and how the widespread impacts of America's prison expansion. The course will examine corrections from global and historical views, from theoretical and policy perspectives, and with close attention to many problem-specific areas. We will explore correctional theories and their application, the nature, scope and function of corrections, the impact of mass incarceration on crime and communities, what works in rehabilitation, and how to help offenders reintegrate after a prison term. These topics will be considered as they play out in current political and policy debates. Guest lectures may include presentations by legal professionals, victims, offenders, and correctional leaders. We also plan to visit a correctional facility. This course is open to 1Ls, 2Ls, and 3Ls in the Law School. Students who have previously taken Petersilia's Sentencing and Corrections course (SLS 621-0-01) should not enroll in this class, as it would be duplicative. Students are asked to write two reflection papers (dates will be specified in the syllabus). Those two reflection papers constitute 50% of the grade; the final one-day take home exam constitutes the other 50%. Class participation will be used as a "tipping factor."