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Criminality and the Carceral State: Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Current Controversies

This course will consider the breadth and limitations of democracy within the lens of American incarceration. In particular, we'll consider how various entities (the court, juries, the legislature, or the populace) are empowered with decision-making within the framework of the criminal justice system. Our central question will be: How does - and how should - the democratic process affect the criminal justice system? Classes will cover the following topics and more: theories of punishment; the judiciary and discretion in sentencing; jury nullification and clemency; districting and political representation; felon disenfranchisement, ballot initiatives; mental health law, privacy and prisons; prisons in China, death penalty jurisprudence; and the privatization of prisons. Each student will be responsible for leading one three-hour class at San Quentin State Prison to a blended class of Stanford and prisoner students. Students will be also be expected to write weekly reflection papers in response to the assigned reading and to attend and participate heavily in each class discussion. In addition, attendance at a training held by the Prison University Project is mandatory. Class will meet on Sundays from 2:00 - 5:00pm. Elements use in grading: Class participation, attendance and written assignments. Consent Application: To apply for this course, students must complete and e-mail the Consent Application Form available on the SLS Registrar's Office website (see Registration and Selection of Classes for Stanford Law Students) to the instructors. See Consent Application Form for submission deadline.


Instructors for this course

Robert Weisberg