Inside-Out Prison Exchange ProgramClass Term:
Fall Term 2022-2023Catalog Number:
3 (3 Contact, 0 Field)Priority:
Limited Enrollment - 3rd Year PriorityFull Year Course:
Special Permission Enrollment Courses - Enrollment in this course requires special permission. See the enrollment information for the section or contact the Registrar for more information.
Term topic: Issues in Criminal Justice and Law
This course will explore issues arising around criminal justice and the law. Instead of simply studying and asking questions about criminal law, policy, and practice, we will ask deeper questions and hone our expertise, knowledge, and analysis together, while exploring the human questions that pervade this area of study. Students will confront and re-think such topics as what prisons are supposed to do and actually do; the use of mass incarceration and penal systems; the roles of major actors in the criminal justice system, such as prosecutors, public defenders, and police; and the driving forces of criminal behavior. The Inside-Out method emphasizes collaboration and dialogue facilitated by the instructor, which invites all participants in the class to address topics under discussion with a willingness to discuss things with honesty and integrity and learn from each other. Students should anticipate that they will have the opportunity to test and sharpen their understanding of criminal justice issues, in an environment that will depend upon an honest exchange of ideas through real dialogue. In doing so, we will create real connection between students on the outside, and students on the inside.
Because most class sessions take place at a regional correctional institution, students must be prepared to travel approximately ten times to the facility, to be present in the facility for several hours at a time, and to comply with all institutional security requirements and course rules, which necessarily go beyond standard course rules.These rules involve matters that include proper dress in the prison and the regulation of conduct that would not attract notice on a college campus but would be regulated in a prison. (See syllabus for these rules.) Failure to comply with these requirements may result in dismissal from the course. Students will also be required to apply in writing for admission to the course. Application must be completed prior to a deadline set prior to registration – deadline to be announced.
- Weekly three-page Reflection Papers, which are required to be completed before each class session (25 percent of grade). Writing these papers will require active attention and participation in class sessions, and careful and attentive reading of the weekly assignments; reflection papers must comment upon and analyze both.
- Class participation (25 percent of grade), which includes participation in class group project
- A final paper of twelve to fifteen pages (50 percent of grade).
This course, which will be taught using the Inside-Out method, will explore some of the most fundamental and current issues arising in criminal justice and the law. Among them those issues and questions: What is the history of prisons in the U.S., and why do we have prisons now? Why has the U.S. engaged in one of the largest experiments in mass incarceration the world has ever seen? Why do people commit crime? Are there alternatives to incarceration that would produce better outcomes and a more just system? What role has race played in criminal justice in the U.S., and what would a more just system look like? The course will bring together students from the School of Law (and perhaps undergraduates from the University of Pittsburgh) with students who are incarcerated at a correctional institution in the region. All students will study together, with most class sessions taking place at the institution. Students will use reading and group discussions as well as writing assignments to bring together theoretical knowledge and learning, lived experience, and the experience gained in the class. The Inside-Out method emphasizes collaboration and dialogue facilitated by the instructor, which invites all participants in the class to address topics under discussion with a willingness to discuss things with honesty and integrity and to learn from each other. Students should anticipate that they will have the opportunity to test and sharpen their understanding of criminal justice issues, in an environment that will depend upon an honest exchange of ideas through real dialogue. In doing so, we will create real connection between students on the outside, and students on the inside.