Political Science | Law, Politics & Society
Y396 | 3732 | 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.