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Spring 2022 Reading Group

Race, Class, and Technology in Criminal Law

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: No Exam

Contemporary criminal law scholarship and criminal law reform efforts have devoted substantial attention to the use of technology as a means of addressing longstanding race and class inequities with the criminal legal system. While some scholars and advocates have welcomed technology as a means of mitigating human bias and systematizing the decision-making of legal actors, others have decried new technology as a means of increasing the surveillance state and obscuring discrimination behind a veneer of scientific objectivity.

This reading group will examine critiques of criminal law technology along with social science research in to the effects of this technology, with a particular focus on how this scholarship may reshape our understanding of American criminal law’s treatment of race and poverty.

The reading group will focus on three primary questions: (1) What are the effects of technology used in contemporary criminal law? (2) What might make this technology helpful or unhelpful for broader goals of reducing race and class inequities within American criminal law? And (3) What might the future hold? The reading group will be divided into three units. We will use a range of texts including interdisciplinary scholarly writing, judicial opinions, popular commentary, and podcasts.

Note: This reading group will meet on the following dates: 2/4, 2/18, 3/4, 3/25, 4/8, and 4/22.