Mass Incarceration and Sentencing Law

Mass Incarceration and Sentencing Law

Judge Nancy Gertner
Spring 2018 course
T 1:00pm - 4:00pm
3 classroom credits

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: No Exam

This course will first put 20th century sentencing law in sociological and historical context. It will examine the history, philosophy, and administration of the criminal sentencing process, the causes of growth in the US penal population, the historical roots of that grown from the mid 20th century to the present, and the impact of those policies on communities of color and the crime rate. We will then examine more closely the legal framework that enabled those policies, including the war on drugs, emphasis on retribution over rehabilitation, the changes in sentencing law and the structure of sentencing decisionmaking. Particular attention will be devoted to substantive sentencing standards (the insights of neuroscience, evidence based lessons from diversion programs) in addition to the procedures governing those decisions. The course will explore different kinds of sentencing regimes-state guideline systems, international models on which sentencing standards have evolved from common law decision making or judge-imposed guidelines (Australia, Israel, England), in addition to the federal sentencing guidelines. We will consider the interplay between principles of proportionality, severity, and parsimony on sentencing law.

Subject Areas: Criminal Law & Procedure