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Course Descriptions

As of 3/2/2021 12:36:58 AM

Prisons and the Law

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. In 1980, approximately 500,000 people were behind bars in this country. In 2015, this figure tops 2.2 million (nearly two-thirds of whom are non-white), incarcerated in jails, state prisons, and federal prisons. This course will examine the constitutional law, and some statutory law, relevant to their incarceration. Topics will include free speech and religious rights in prison, the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishments, the prison disciplinary process, solitary and supermax confinement, felon disenfranchisement, prisoner access to the courts, and race discrimination. We'll also look at Congress's efforts to regulate both prison and litigation brought by prisoners, examining the Prison Litigation Reform Act and the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act within prisons and jails. Finally, we'll examine constitutional remedies, studying the law of injunctive relief in constitutional cases brought by inmates, and also some of the issues raised by damage actions. (We will not discuss criminal procedure, habeas corpus, or sentencing.) This course is for anyone interested in civil rights, criminal prosecution, or criminal defense.