Mass Incarceration: Its Causes, its Impact, Its Elimination and Prevention

Mass Incarceration: Its Causes, its Impact, Its Elimination and Prevention

Judge Nancy Gertner
Spring 2018 course
Th 5:00pm - 7:00pm
3 classroom credits

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: No Exam

The course will be co-taught by Professor Bruce Western, Professor of Sociology, director of the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy and Faculty Chair of the Program in Criminal Justice at the Kennedy School. The course will examine the causes of the growth in the US penal population and the historical roots of that growth from the mid 20th century to the present. It will examine the legal framework that enabled the policies– the war on drugs, the emphasis on retribution over rehabilitation, the structure of sentencing (mandatory minimums and mandatory guidelines). It will consider the bureaucratization and federalization of crime, together with profound changes correctional policy and politics. In addition, it will examine the economic inequality on which sentencing and correctional policies were superimposed and which they exacerbated, as well as their specific impact on communities of color. In addition to the sociological and legal background of the issue, we will highlight particular areas for special practical focus– drug policy and addiction, juvenile justice, the workings of the criminal justice system in high poverty communities.

Note: This course is jointly-listed with HKS as SUP-705 and FAS as SOC 246.

Subject Areas: Criminal Law & Procedure