LAW 533

The Philosophy of Prisons and Punishment

Criminal Justice, Critical Race Studies, Law & Philosophy

This course applies a philosophical and legal framework to questions relating to punishment and prisons. The course can be divided into three broad components:
1) Lectures on philosophy of law, political philosophy, and theories of punishment; 
2) Discussions of the history of punishment and prisons in the United States; and 
3) Explorations of how gender, race, and disability have intersected with and motivated carceral regimes. 

Together, we will aim to answer questions such as: What distinguishes law from other forms of social control? What connections obtain between law and morality? Under what conditions do we have a duty to obey the law, and under what conditions do we have a duty to disobey? These discussions will be grounded in the stories and histories of those who the state has consistently marginalized, oppressed, and prevented from flourishing. Throughout the class, students will be encouraged to both develop a general framework for understanding the relationship between race, gender, disability, and carcerality and apply these frameworks to the messy realities of actual statecraft. 

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