ES 352 - Social Equity & Criminal Justice
Instructor: Michael Hames-García
Term: Winter 2016
The purpose of this class is to acquaint students with critical issues related to social justice and equality as they pertain to the history and present state of the U.S. criminal justice system. We will discuss the history of criminal codes, policing, and imprisonment. In addition, we will examine current debates such as those related to prison policies, the war on drugs, judicial discretion and mandatory sentencing guidelines, the expansion and curtailment of defendant rights, police profiling, victims’ rights, the increasing criminalization of immigration, and the death penalty. Particular attention will be given throughout the course to the ways in which both crime and the criminal justice system disproportionately impact the poor and people of color. Furthermore, specific attention will be given to the different ways that women, gays and lesbians, and transgender people are impacted by crime and criminal justice. Central to the course will be an ongoing critical attention to the historically variable relationships among legal and conventional definitions of crime and measures of social and personal harm. As an ethnic studies course, this course will differ from courses in history, political science, or sociology, in that it deliberately exposes students to multiple methodological approaches, drawing from historical texts, contemporary social and theoretical analysis, ethnography, public policy, and first-hand activist accounts. It also seeks to understand race, ethnicity, and other social identities as bases for knowledge and resistance, rather than primarily as social variables.