It is a defiant and blasphemous faith, not unlike that held by the men who set out to build ‘a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto the heaven’ and who believed that ‘nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.’”
The True Believer (1951: 7-8, Quoting the Book of Genesis)
Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.
Who are the “bad guys”? We all have ideas about who to avoid–and where to be scared. Everyone of us has an idea about why drug dealers, gangsters, and killers do what they do. In this class we will take an interdisciplinary perspective to challenge
“common- sense” notions of crime and punishment; comparing ideas about law-making and law-breaking through history and in different societies.
Through the term we’ll move around the globe–among our stops communities in the United States, Colombia, Holland, Mexico, China, and Afghanistan–as we explore how crime and justice are conceptualized in various cultures. We will watch films, read newspapers and Internet postings, listen to popular music, study ethnographies, case studies, and analyze criminological research and theory in order to grasp different cultural ways of seeing and knowing disorder and subversion.
This course will look at crime through the lens of critical criminology, seeking new ways to understand a topic that quickly becomes melodramatic, stereotyped, and simplified as it enters public debate. We will not so much seek answers to questions, as we will question the answers that have been forced upon us by popular opinion.
I have several goals for the class. First, I want to interrupt everyday talk and accepted notions about lawbreakers, and encourage you to think about crime and justice in a broad, interdisciplinary sense, to understand these phenomena as social constructions carrying different meanings to different people and communities.
I hope to introduce you to the holistic discipline of criminology, combining writings by early foundational thinkers with some of the most recent studies relating to critical issues of crime, violence, and criminal justice.
And I would like you to join me in the study of a catastrophe that will affect American society for generations to come.
The attacks against the United States on September 11th, 2001 not only shocked the world; they touched it directly. Thousands of innocent people from eighty nations were killed. This was a massive act of terrorism, an immense violation of human rights. At the core of this monumental disaster was a complex and toxic mix of crime-related phenomena–subcultures of violence, cultural conflict, fanaticism, and hate. Its repercussions for international criminal justice–in terms of criminal law, immigration policy, public safety, availability of funding, civil liberties, as well as perspectives on race, ethnicity, and criminal profiling--will be profound.
This course acknowledges the unprecedented state of danger and disorder that we now face. It incorporates various schools of criminological thought, including the sociology of law and society, the culture of poverty and violence, radical social movements, and the study of crime and mass media. While criminology will be the primary lense through which we view danger and disorder, it will not be the only one.
In order to fully understand the changes wrought by September 11th, you must also draw upon the wide range of knowledge and skills you have learned in your other liberal arts courses. For example, the terrorist attacks on the United States will perhaps have its greatest impact on federal law enforcement, affecting everything from surveillance, intelligence gathering, and border patrol to investigation, search and seizures, and airline safety. In this course, you will gain a greater appreciation for these changes by intermingling your lessons in criminology with those you’ve learned in the humanities, sociology, economics, communications, psychology, political science, and history–especially history. In this way, you will come to synthesize your criminology studies into a more coherent whole.
In other words, the course offers a comprehensive, interdisciplinary examination of critical issues in crime, law, and justice during a period of intense social crisis. Along the way, we will also focus on the concepts and the day-to-day problems of the criminal justice system, and consider the ways in which they system has changed since September 11th. The materials you will be exposed to are applicable to your previous and ongoing studies; therefore, you will be given opportunities to synthesize the knowledge and skills you have learned in liberal studies, and apply them to your professional goals in criminal justice. These opportunities will present themselves to you in lectures, class discussions, debates, and written assignments.
After reviewing the basic concepts of justice in our society and in various other cultures, and the concurrent phenomenon of social order, we will look at theories of violence in America, including the role of cultural influences on the etiology of, and tolerance for, violence in the United States. Then we will turn to scholarship on the problem of drugs in society, focusing on the tradition of temperance ideology that is deeply embedded in American laws, institutions, and culture. We will then examine criminal subcultures ranging from street gangs, drug possess, and graffiti crews to skinheads, outlaw motorcycle gangs, and urban terrorists.
We will explore the rise of militant Islam, Osama bin
Laden, and the future of terrorism.
Next we will peel back the veil of mystery surrounding police work in America, by exploring police culture, the emergence and practice of community policing, and the complex relationship between law enforcement, crime, space, and built environments. We then examine critical issues in sentencing, with special attention given to the administration of capital punishment, and some of the most pressing problems in our nation’s prisons. Then we examine the ways in which crime, criminals, and justice are filtered through newspapers, television, and films. Finally, we take a look at the ways in which each of us can become contributing members of society through participation in the criminal justice system and/or through collective struggles for social justice and human rights.
Fox Butterfield. 1996.
All God’s Children: The Bosket Family and the American Tradition of
Violence. New York: Avon Books. (Winner of the Pulitzer Prize)
Phillipe Bourgois. 1996. In Search of Self Respect: Selling Crack in El
Barrio. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Mark S. Hamm. 2002. In Bad Company: America’s Terrorist
Underground. Boston: Northeastern University Press.
Simon Reeve. 1999. The New Jackals: Ramzi
Yousef, Osama bin Laden, and the Future of Terrorism. Boston: Northeastern University Press.
There is also a course reading packet to be purchased at the bookstore.
Course Structure and Assignments:
This is an undergraduate capstone course for criminology majors, focused on interactive learning. During our meetings, you will hear short orienting lectures, participate in discussions, watch a number of films, listen to guest speakers, do short assignments and class activities and carry out project presentations and debates. Throughout the term, you will be encouraged to read and watch crime and terrorism news.
Everyone will participate in learning activities by sharing your informed positions on a number of topics and issues (this is not the same as your personal opinion) with other students through the various presentations and assignments. You are expected to be in class and to read the assignments prior to class.
You will write eight short (250 word) essays. In these essays, you are required to integrate and critically reflect on the information covered in class. All topics and writing assignments will be given well in advance of the due dates, and all papers will be quickly graded and returned to you. You can use my comments to improve on the quality of subsequent papers. You are also required to keep a portfolio of your papers so that I can periodically review the papers to appraise your progress.
[see .txt version for details]
Organization of the Course. The course will be divided into nine learning modules.
MODULE 1: LAW AND SOCIETY
Week 1. We begin with an overview of the basic concepts used in the administration of justice in our society and in various other cultures. This will give you a framework for understanding how various legal systems and their laws relate to more abstract notions of justice. We will compare social versus legal justice; procedural versus substantive justice; and retributive versus restorative justice.
Then we will examine the application of justice in various cultures, and the ways in which justice relates to broader social, political, and economic issues of society. Our discussions will center around two major theoretical perspectives: Functionalist theory (which assumes a high degree of societal consensus on norms and values) and social conflict theory (which argues that consensus on norms and values is impossible due to the social diversity of modern societies). Using these two competing theories as academic guideposts, we will analyze and debate the practical meaning of specific issues such as equal protection under law, judicial discretion, the presumption of innocence, minimizing errors, the swift and certain administration of justice, and the duty of the state to protect its citizens.
Freda Adler, Gerhard O. W. Mueller, and William S. Laufer (1998) “An Overview of Criminology.” In Adler et al. Criminology. New York: McGraw-Hill. Pp. 3-20.
Elijah Anderson (1997) “The Police and the Black Male.” In Constructions of Deviance: Power, Context, and Interaction (2nd edition), edited by Patricia A. Adler and Peter Adler. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co. Pp. 142-152.
William J. Chambliss (1997/1973) “The Saints and the Roughnecks.” In Adler and Adler’s Constructions of Deviance. Pp. 128-141.
Fydor Dostoyevsky (1961/1877) “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man.” In Dostoyevsky’s Notes From Underground. New York: The New American Library, Inc. Pp. 204-226.
Topic for Essay #1
How does a dominant political ideology affect the administration of justice? In framing your answer, make one or two references to an idea or concept you have learned in one of your general education courses (e.g., English, Sociology, Economics, etc.).
MODULE TWO: VIOLENCE IN AMERICA
Weeks 2 and 3. Popular culture often portrays the United States as the most violent nation on Earth. Is this true? By collecting, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information from government reports, literature, research, the media, and your own experiences, you will be able to make informed decisions about the validity of the prevailing perceptions about violence in America.
We will focus on the following unifying questions: Do the historical legacies of frontier justice, slavery, male hegemony, and the tradition of gun ownership continue to influence the levels of violence in America? If so, are there regional variations in these levels of violence? If there is, are those variations due to specific historical antecedents (e.g., the Southern subculture of violence)? And, can criminal careers and violence associated with them be transmitted across generations? Likewise, we would be interested in knowing whether racial, ethnic, class, and gender stereotypes continue to affect the rate of violence. Finally, what role does popular culture (movies, television, video games, rap and heavy metal music) play in perpetuating the deadly strain of American violence, especially among youth?
Butterfield, All God’s Children.
Mark S. Hamm and Jeff Ferrell (1999) “Rap, Cops, and Crime: Clarifying the ‘Cop Killer’ Controversy.” In Controversial Issues in Race and Ethnicity, edited by Richard C. Monk. Guilford, CT: Dushkin/McGraw Hill. Pp. 25-42.
Darnell F. Hawkins (1994) “Ethnicity: The Forgotten Dimension of American Social Control.” In Inequality, Crime, & Social Control. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Pp. 99-115.
Roger Lancaster (1992) “Murdering One’s Husband’s Lover.” In Lancaster’s Life is Hark. Berkeley: University of California Press. Pp. 48-55.
Robert J. Sampson and Janet L. Lauritsen (1994) “Violent Victimization and Offending: Individual-, Situational-, and Community-Level Risk Factors.” In Understanding and Preventing Violence. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Pp. 1-114. (Selections)
Topics for Essay #2
Select two or three aspects of American society (such as popular culture, guns, and community risk factors) and explain how they have contributed to today’s level of violence in the United States.
Has violence affected or shaped your own life? If it has, discuss three ways in which it has done so. Remember, as with all essays you write for this class, you must back up your discussion with information from the readings and/or class presentations.
Discuss the following quotation from criminologist Ruth Kornhauser:
So abused have been the concepts of culture and subculture in explanation of delinquency that if these terms were struck from the lexicon of criminologists, the study of delinquency would benefit from their absence. It might then be possible more insistently to search for the roots of delinquency in social structure and situation.
MODULE THREE: THE WAR ON DRUGS
Weeks 4 and 5. This module will examine public perceptions about the problem of drug use in the United States and the effects of drugs on American society compared with public attitudes toward other victimless crimes. Here we are concerned with four unifying questions:
1) Why are drug offenses in the United States treated more harshly than other so-called consensual and victimless crimes, such as underage drinking, illegal gambling, and prostitution? Relatedly, why do some societies prohibit and sanction different drugs, while other societies do not?
2) Is the current War on Drugs the most efficacious way to approach the problem of drug use in American society? Or, put another way, do our current drug policies do more harm than good?
3) Does the nascent political and social movement for pragmatic drug policy reform hold any greater solution for solving the problem of drug use in American society?
4) And, how will U.S. drug policy be affected by the events of September 11th?
In trying to answer these questions, we will explore the moral and economic consequences of inflexible, mandatory minimum sentencing laws aimed at sending drug addicts and dealers to prison. We will also examine other pernicious aspects of drug prohibition, such as the spread of violence, police corruption, the proliferation of disease, the loss of civil liberties, the influence of organized crime on drug markets, and the decline of public confidence in the government’s ability to win the Drug War as it wages its War on Terrorism.
Understanding drug use in America requires that we understand the nation’s longstanding ideology of temperance, an ideology that is deeply embedded in our laws, institutions, and culture. Against this backdrop we will also look at an array of more specific drug policy issues, including: a spectacular rise in imprisonment rates for drug law violations; racial disparity in the War on Drugs; the increasing support for treatment instead of incarceration for non-violent drug possession offenders; the government’s authority to seize money and property from people who have not been convicted of a crime; the rising rates of methamphetamine production/use in the Midwest and elsewhere; drug use and domestic violence; drug use and reproductive rights of women; prescription drugs; and medical marijuana. Finally, you will be asked to critique your personal beliefs in light of their policy implications.
Bourgois, In Search of Self Respect.
Katherine Beckett (1995) “Fetal Rights and Crack Moms: Pregnant Women in the War on Drugs.” Contemporary Drug Problems, 22: 587-612.
William J. Chambliss (1994) “Why the U.S. Government Is Not Contributing to the Resolution of the Nation’s Drug Problem.” International Journal of Health Services, 24: 675-90.
Annette Jolin (1999) “On the Backs of Working Prostitutes: Feminist Theory and Prostitution Policy.” In Social Deviance: Readings in Theory and Research (3rd edition), edited by Henry N. Pontell. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Pp. 171-79.
David Lenson (1995) “The Very Short History of Sobriety,” “Blow Money: Cocaine, Currency, and Consumerism,” and “Drugs and Violence.” In Lensons’ On Drugs. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Pp. 3-6, 173-78, and 167-72.
Ken Silverstein (1999) “Millions for Viagra, Pennies for the Poor.” The Nation, July 19: 13-19.
E-Mail Discussion Group:
University Drug Policy Forum. UDPF is a low volume email discussion list where students and faculty members can educate themselves about the War on Drugs. UDPF forums range from discussions on medical marijuana and needle exchange, to asset forfeiture, mandatory minimum sentencing, and racism in the drug war.
Sex, Drugs, and Democracy. A documentary on Holland’s liberal sex trade and drug use policies.
Traffic. A compelling look at the War on Drugs from the perspectives of drug warriors, drug traffickers, and drug users. The film traces the development of a global trade in cocaine concurrent with the evolution of global capitalism. (Winner of the Academy Award)
A drug enforcement agent who has arrested hundreds of drug users and dealers will be invited to class to share his work with us. Also, a recovering drug addict will be invited to class to speak with us about the addict’s life.
Topics for Essay #3:
Should the state prohibit illicit drug use in American society? Provide two or three reasons in defense of your position.
Discuss whether the term “victimless” crime adequately describes the nature of drug use in American society.
Discuss the ways in which the War on Drugs will be affected by the events of September 11th.
Weeks 6 and 7. Here we examine one of society’s most enduring and perplexing social problems. Whether in New York City, Chicago, or London, Berlin or Jerusalem, whether the 21st Century or the 19th, it is the same story: Young people go looking for excitement and ultimately find the “sneaky thrills” they were searching for. The world from which they come appears to have no place for them, so they create a place that makes sense only to insiders. Resentful of the rejections and injustices–real or imagined–to which they have been subjected, they band together to share their own bitterness. Once that involvement has begun, two other key factors are need for these individuals to create for themselves an internally cohesive and socially insulated style of collective existence which provides members with a means to psychologically remain apart from society.
The first of these factors is a sense of culture that develops among group members. And the second is a sense of identity and belonging each member gets from participating in the culture. These factors then provide the building blocks necessary for the emergence of terrorism. In this module, you will examine how and why these subcultures have emerged in recent years, and how they have been dealt with by the state. In so doing, you will analyze whether this public response has been shaped by class, gender, race, and ethnic considerations.
Hamm, In Bad Company.
Reeve, The New Jackals.
George W. Bush (2001) Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People. September 20. (Available at
David Carr (2001) “The Futility of ‘Homeland Defense.’” The Atlantic Monthly, Jan. 53-5.
Seymour M. Hersh (2001) “What Went Wrong: How the CIA Still Can’t Explain the Attack.” The New Yorker, Oct. 28: 34-40.
Bruce Hoffman (2002) “A Nasty Business.” The Atlantic Monthly, Jan.: 49-52.
Bruce Hoffman (2001) “All You Need is Love.” The Atlantic Monthly, Dec.: 34-7.
Mohammad I. Hussain. “An Introduction to Islam.” (UCLA web page)
Joseph Lelyveld (2001) “All Suicide Bombers Are Not Alike.” The New York Times Magazine, Oct: 48-53.
Fareed Zakaria (2001) “Why They Hate Us: The Roots of Islamic Rage.” Newsweek, Oct.: 22-8.
Offers links on a variety of issues related to the attacks.
See especially Are
Terrorists Psychotic? and understanding
Duke University Library
http://www.altnet.org Alternative news
In Search of Bin Laden (Frontline)
Trial of a Terrorist (Frontline)
Saudi Time Bomb (Frontline)
Target America (Frontline)
Soldiers of God (Court TV)
An FBI agent will be invited to class to speak with us about the September 11 attacks. Also, an Islamic scholar will be invited to speak with us on the topic of why Americans are so hated in parts of the Muslim world.
Topics for Essay #4:
The 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the 2001 attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were the most destructive acts of terrorism ever committed on American soil. The first was a case of domestic terrorism; the second was international terrorism. Explain how they differed and why you think they occurred in U.S. society.
Religion has always been one of the most global of all social institutions. One important development is the continuing growth of Islam as a world religion. Explain why radical Islamists–those who seek an enforced utopia–are now the world’s greatest terrorist threat.
Functionalist theory explains crime in terms of a structural strain between socially determined values and the socially approved means for achieving them. Conflict theory explains crime in terms of the conflict between different groups in society. Pick a terrorist incident studied in class and explain why it happened by using one of these general theories.
MODULE FIVE: CRITICAL ISSUES IN POLICING
Weeks 8 and 9. Here we delve into the mysteries of police work. We begin with an analysis of the recruiting process, by asking the question: Is there anything unique about people who become police officers? Next we take a look at the complicated issue of police culture, which emphasizes an “Us versus Them” mentality, and the concordant issue of paranoia surrounding the handling of sensitive information. Then we examine a range of critical issues in law enforcement relating to ethics, including police corruption, brutality and police vulnerability to lawsuits and negative press. We will also consider the bureaucratic jargon used in police circles, recent developments in community policing, discretionary powers of arrest, and the increasingly sophisticated technology of policing.
Then we consider the interplay between policing, crime, and space. We will examine the history of this interplay by exploring early theories which proposed that marginal inner city spaces “bred” or “harbored” criminals. This perspective will be contrasted with late 20th century theories which
discuss space in terms of “fortified cells” of affluent society and “places of terror” where police battle the criminalized poor.
Finally, we will examine the changes in law enforcement that have come about as a result of September 11th, and the implications of global policing in the international war against terrorism.
John P. Crank (1998) Understanding Police Culture. Cincinnati: Anderson. (Selections)
Mike Davis (1990) “Fortress L.A.” and “The Hammer and the Rock.” In Davis’ City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles. New York: Verso Press. Pp. 223-63 and 267-322.
Steve Herbert (1997) “Territoriality and the Police.” In Herbert’s Policing Space: Teritoriality and the Los Angeles Police Department. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Pp. 9-23.
James Q. Wilson and George Kelling (1982) “Broken Windows.” Atlantic Monthly (March): 29-38.
Reinventing the City: New York and Los Angeles. A documentary on policing the modern metropolis.
Two speakers will be invited to class to share their work with us. One is a police officer who has worked the beat in a crime-ridden inner city area. The other is a former police superintendent in India who has tracked down and arrested members of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Topics for Essay #5:
Some scholars believe that peacekeeping is the most important function of policing. Others believe that service is the most important function, and still others believe that crime prevention is most important. Which do you believe. Include research to support your position.
Discuss the merits and demerits of community-based surveillance as a cornerstone of modern policing in disadvantaged urban areas.
Describe a place in which you feel fearful, in danger; then contrast this with a place where you feel safe. Then draw a map showing where danger spots are. Consider what it as about the environment, or your experience, that stimulates these feelings.
Discuss the problems and prospects of using global policing in the fight against international
MODULE SIX: SENTENCING
Weeks 10 and 11. In this module we will examine the background, controversies, uncertainties, and effects of various sentencing methods used by judges and legislatures. We will explore three traditional sentencing methods–probation, fines, and imprisonment--as well as a range of intermediate sanctions, including boot camps, electronic monitoring, restitution, and intensive supervision. These methods will be reviewed in light of a series of critical issues. Those include sentencing and crime victims; sentencing disparities; the arguments surrounding indeterminate and determinate sentencing; mandatory minimum sentencing; “three-strikes” legislation; and selective incapacitation.
Finally, we will explore the exigencies of the ultimate sentence: death. Here we will compare and contrast the administration of capital punishment in the United States (where approximately four-thousand condemned prisoners await execution) and China (where more than five-thousand executions were carried out in 2000). In so doing, we will concentrate on capital punishment and the law; public attitudes toward the death penalty; methods of execution (public vs. “private”); juveniles and the death penalty; executing the mentally retarded; racial discrimination and capital punishment; miscarriages of justice; the executioner; and life on Death Row.
Amnesty International (1999) The Death Penalty: Facts and Figures. London: AI.
Brandon K. Applegate, Francis T. Cullen, Michael G. Turner, and Jody L. Sundt (1996) “Assessing Public Support for Three-Strikes-and-You’re-Out Laws: Global Versus Specific Attitudes.” Crime and Delinquency, 42: 517-34.
Jan Arriens, Ed. (1997) Welcome to Hell: Letters and Writings from Death Row. Boston: Northeastern University Press. (Selections)
William J. Bowers (1988) “The Effect of Executions is Brutalization, Not Deterrence.” In Capital Punishment: Legal and Social Science Approaches, edited by Kenneth C. Haas and James A. Inciardi. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Herb Haines (1992) “Flawed Executions, the Anti-Death Penalty Movement, and the Politics of Capital Punishment.” Social Problems, 39: 125-38.
Merry Morash and Lila Rucker (1990) “A Critical Look at the Idea of Boot Camps as a Correctional Reform.” Crime and Delinquency, 36: 204-22.
Marc Renzema (1992) “Home Confinement Programs: Development, Implementation, and Impact.” In Smart Sentencing: The Emergence of Intermediate Sanctions, edited by James Byren et al. Newbury Park: Sage.
John Rosencrance (1988) “Probation Supervision: Mission Impossible.” Federal Probation, 50: 25-31.
Fourteen Days in May. A BBC documentary chronicling the execution of a Louisiana prisoner.
Internet Source: DeathrowSpeaks. A unique web site featuring personal stories written by the men on Death Row at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.
The warden of the federal penitentiary will be invited to class to speak with us about executing condemned men.
Topics for Essay #6:
Based upon what you have read and learned in class, do you think that judges allow nonlegal factors such as gender, class, or race influence their sentencing decisions? If so, how and to what extent?
In recent years, state and federal legislatures have restricted the discretion allowed judges when sentencing offenders. What do you think of this now?
Based upon what you have learned in class about Death Row, do you think reform is necessary? If so, explain what reforms are needed.
Do you agree with the U.S. Supreme Court attempts to curb death penalty appeals?
MODULE SEVEN: CRITICAL ISSUES IN CORRECTIONS
Weeks 12 and 13. This module offers opportunities for you to apply what you may have already learned in the specific liberal studies areas of political science and psychology to the enormous problems facing prisons in contemporary society. We begin with a brief survey of the major theories of crime and the competing ideologies of corrections. Essentially, you will see that what you understand to be the causes of crime (theory of crime) will influence your view of penology (ideology of corrections).
Then we will move to an examination of the critical issues. These include prison organization and power; the prison guard subculture; the social world of prisoners; conditions of confinement (especially overcrowding); women and minorities in prison; and institutional violence. We will conclude the module by looking at two special issues of growing concern: health care (including substance abuse treatment and the treatment of prisoners suffering from HIV/AIDS) and the current push toward the privatization of prisons.
Ben Crouch and James Marquart (1990) “On Becoming a Prison Guard.” In The Administration and Management of Criminal Justice Organizations, edited by Stan Stojkavic et al. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland.
Francis T. Cullen and Paul Gendreau (1989) “The Effectiveness of Correctional Rehabilitation: Reconsidering the ‘Nothing Works’ Debate.” In American Prisons: Issues in Research and Policy, edited by Lynne Goodstein and Doris MacKenzie. New York: Plenum Publishing Co. Pp. 23-44.
Francis T. Cullen, Patricia Van Voorhis, and Jody L. Sundt (1996) “Prisons in Crisis: The American Experience.” In Prisons 2000: An International Perspective on the Current State and Future of Imprisonment, edited by Roger Mathews and Peter Francis. New York: Macmillan. Pp. 21-52.
Pete Early (1992) The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison. New York: Bantam Books. (Selections)
Malcolm M. Feeley and Jonathan Simon (1992) “The New Penology: Notes on the Emerging Strategy of Corrections and Its Implications.” Criminology, 30: 449-74.
Theodore Hammett (1999) Update on AIDS in Prisons and Jails. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice.
Nancy Jurik (1985) “An Officer and a Lady: Organizational Barriers to Women Working as Correctional Officers in Men’s Prisons.” Social Problems, 32: 375-88.
John M. Klofas, Stan Stojkovic, and David A. Kalinich (1992) “The Meaning of Correctional Crowding: Steps Toward an Index of Severity.” Crime and Delinquency, 38: 171-88.
Videos: Supermax. A Discovery Channel special on the super maximum security prison at Indiana’s Wabash Correctional Center.
Two prison guards, a man and a woman, will be invited to class to discuss their work with us.
Topics for Essay #7:
What are the biggest problems for maintaining order in prison?
How do prison staff, especially in maximum security prisons, stand together to maintain order? What can undermine solidarity among correctional officers?
Describe the specific elements of a successful prison rehabilitation program.
MODULE EIGHT: MASS MEDIA AND CRIME
Week 14. In this module, we will study media as an institutional actor in society, and as an intimate presence in homes. As we shall see, media presentations of crime, criminals, and justice present a sort of “Planet Hollywood” version of reality–one that is almost totally void of the structural antecedents of crime and the lived politics of criminals and criminal justice professionals. We begin by considering how the mass media are constantly seeking to “discover” new phenomena in order to make news. Then we will examine the concept of “moral panics”–periodic waves of fear and outrage primarily about poor and racially distinct young men. We will ask what is a stake in disseminating certain (mis)representations of crime through powerful consent-building forces of the mass media. Finally, we will consider what is at stake in our time of crisis, when media begins to blur the line between jingoism and journalism.
Gregg Barak (1988) “Newsmaking Criminology: Reflections on the Media, Intellectuals, and Crime.” Justice Quarterly, 5: 565-87.
Pamela Donovan (1998) “Armed With the Power of Television: Reality Crime Programming and the Reconstruction of Law and Order in the United States.” In Entertaining Crime: Television Reality Programs, edited by Mark Fishman and Gray Cavendur. New York: Aldine De Gruyter. Pp. 117-37.
Barry Glassner (1999) “Crime in the News: Tall Tales and Overstated Statistics.” In Glassner’s The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things. New York: Basic Books. Pp. 25-49.
A newspaper reporter covering the police beat will be invited to speak to us about his/her work.
Topics for Essay #8:
Describe how one television series, episode, or movie has depicted a specific crime or criminal. Was the depiction valid?
How much do you feel that high-profile media events–such as the trial and execution of Timothy McVeigh or the pursuit of
Osama bin Laden–teach the public about the American criminal justice system? What do they teach that is valuable? Not valuable?
MODULE NINE: PARTICIPATING IN JUSTICE
Week 15. In the final module, we will critically examine the traditional ways in which citizens participate in both the criminal justice system (as volunteers, jurors, witnesses, and voters) and collective struggles for social justice (through activism and civil disobedience). We are all stewards of justice, yet some activities carry greater moral consequences than others. Hopefully, this section of the course will help you to develop informed positions on participation in public life, and to critically examine the relationships between human choices and society, and your civic and moral responsibilities for those choices.
Phillip Berrigan (1993) “Civil Disobedience.” Odyssey: Creative Alternatives in Criminal Justice. (Spring): 80-3.
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1964) “ Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” In King’s Why We Can’t Wait. New York: Harper & Row.
Crossing the Line. Documentary on the 1998 non-violent protest waged by over 7,000 students, church people, former military officers, and activists against the U.S. School of the Americas outside the gates of Ft. Benning, Georgia.