Courses in criminal law tend to focus on the “front end” of
the criminal justice process: investigation, prosecution, and verdict. This seminar
will cover a series of topics pertaining to the “back end” of the system (ie,
arising after guilt has been determined).
The exact topics will vary from semester to semester, but will cover the
gamut from criminal sentencing (the death penalty, LWOP, mandatory minimums, etc.) to incarceration (prison conditions, solitary confinement, the Prison Rape Elimination Act, the
public’s access to prisons, etc.), parole, “collateral” consequences of criminal
convictions, and re-entry challenges. Students will be asked to write weekly
(1000 words) critical analytical response papers, with the aim of developing
over the course of the semester their own working theories of the back end of
the American criminal system. Class participation will also determine part of
the final grade, and the use of laptops will not be permitted during class.