Political Science | Law, Politics, and Society
Y396 | 3428 | Bell
This seminar focuses on the relationship between law,
politics, and society in one particular area--the criminal justice system.
Drawing from a variety of sources, including court decisions and empirical
studies, we will examine how the criminal law works "on the ground." The
seminar is organized in the following manner: After a brief introduction to
some cultural bases for popular notions of criminality and law breaking, we
will focus on sociolegal studies in six areas: criminal courts and criminal
justice personnel, criminal trials, prosecutors, defense attorneys, the
police, and punishment. Issues we will consider include the disparity
between what the laws says and what happens in reality; the role of race,
class, and gender in the decisions made by those whose job it is to enforce
the criminal law; the role the criminal justice system is intended to play
in society; and finally whether the criminal justice system lives up to the
goal of balancing the interests of justice, order, and liberty.