Race and the Law: African-Americans and Criminal Justice (20203). 3 units. Since the early 1970s, the criminal justice system in the United States has expanded dramatically. The country has adopted an array of increasingly tough approaches to crime, including aggressive street-level policing, longer sentences, and a range of collateral consequences for criminal convictions. As a result, there are currently 2.2 million persons in prisons and jails and seven million under some form of correctional supervision. The impact on African Americans has been especially profound: In many of our nation's cities, nearly one-half of young black men are in the criminal justice system.
This seminar will focus on the tough-on-crime era’s historical roots. We will also examine the impact on these policies, especially on African-American communities. We will pay particular attention to the role of African-Americans, not only as crime victims and defendants but also as actors—e.g., voters, intellectuals, policy-makers, activists, prosecutors, probation and police officers—who make and influence criminal justice policy.
The assigned reading will be substantial and will come from a wide variety of sources, including history, sociology, political science, criminology, and law. Examples of the sort of material being considered include: Khalil Muhammad, The Condemnation of Blackness; Douglas Blackmon, Slavery By Another Name; Geoff Ward, The Black Child-Savers; Nicholas Johnson, Negroes and the Gun; Marie Gottschalk, The Prison and the Gallows; Randall Kennedy, Race, Crime, and the Law; Angela Davis, Arbitrary Justice; Ellis Cose, The Darden Dilemma; Lisa Miller, The Perils of Federalism; David Garland, Peculiar Institution; Alice Goffman, On the Run; David Kennedy, Don’t Shoot; and articles by Ronald Weitzer, Paul Butler, and Michael Fortner.
In lieu of an examination, students will write weekly reading response papers and a final paper. Substantial Paper credit is available. Supervised Analytic Writing credit is not available. Enrollment limited to twelve. Permission of the instructor required. Also AFAM 625a. J. Forman, Jr.
Course bidding: In addition to listing this course among permission of the instructor selections, students should submit a brief statement of interest and a CV June 26 at 4:30 p.m.
Note:Attendance at the first class meeting is required.