POLS 070B. Politics of Punishment (AP)

The question of why the United States has become a vastly more punitive society-some 2.3 million Americans are held in jails and prisons throughout this country, at last count-is the subject of this upper-level division seminar. The aim of the seminar is to provide both a critical and in-depth exploration of the interplay among American electoral politics, public concerns regarding crime, and criminal justice policy. Among the central questions we will examine are: How is it that so many Americans are either locked up behind bars or under the supervision of the criminal justice system? And where did the idea of using "jails" and "prisons" as instruments of social and crime control come from? What explains the racial and class differences in criminal behavior and incarceration rates? What does it mean to be poor, a person of color-and in "jail" or "prison?" How and why does criminal justice policy in this country have its roots in both the media culture and political campaigns? And how might "politics" underpin what is known as "felon disenfranchisement" or "prison-based gerrymandering?" What are the implications of such political practices for broader questions of racial, economic, and social justice? And importantly, what are the prospects for reform of America's incarceration complex?
Enrollment only by permission of the instructor.
Social sciences.
1.5 credit.
Eligible for BLST
Catalog chapter: Political Science  
Department website: http://www.swarthmore.edu/political-science

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