CJ 360: Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program: Examining Status in America

This class brings together university students (outside students) and current prisoners (inside students) in order to expand our understanding of punishment practices in the United States.  In particular, students are asked to evaluate the impact of status upon American life by considering issues of personal and collective voice in communities, variation in access to conventional success opportunities, and the effect of status upon ability to effectively engage in local and national communities.  It is a chance for all students to gain deeper understanding of community membership from multiple perspectives, and how it is impacted by social status.  Through application of theoretical perspectives and consideration of practical experience students are exposed to a diversity of material that allows them to more fully examine and understand the complex impact of social status upon American life.

Contact: Professor Steve McGuinn (Criminal Justice Program)

(Other inside/out courses for medical and law students are detailed in “Teaching”)

Law School Civil Justice Clinic

In the Civil Justice Clinic, students work under the supervision of full-time faculty members representing low-income individuals who cannot afford counsel, and work on public policy matters to benefit disadvantaged communities. Through the Clinic's Prisoner Reentry Project, we advocate for individuals who are reentering the community from Connecticut's prisons and jails.

Contact:  Sarah Russell and Kevin Barry, School of Law

LAWS 636:  Sentencing, Prisons, and Reentry

This seminar explores policies and procedures relating to the “back end” of the criminal justice system (i.e., that occurs after a determination of guilt). The course covers topics relating to criminal sentencing, including sentencing guidelines, mandatory minimums, and constitutional challenges to sentences. We will consider laws and policies relating to incarceration, such as prison conditions, solitary confinement, access to health care for prisoners, and the Prison Rape Elimination Act. Finally, we will examine the “collateral consequences” of criminal convictions and the challenges individuals face reentering communities after incarceration. These questions are pressing given the size of our country’s incarcerated population – with more than 2.2 million people incarcerated in America’s prisons and jails, we have more prisoners per capita than any other country in the world. (2 credits)

Contact:  Sarah Russell, School of Law


LAWS 410:  Theories of Punishment

The course offers an opportunity to explore in depth the question of how punishment is justified and measured. Students participate in discussion of the weekly readings and prepare briefs on sentencing issues. They argue their briefs at the end of the course, and then participate in a mock sentencing commission, deciding the issues briefed. Explored are philosophical questions about punishment (is general deterrence morally justified? is retribution more than revenge?), as well as contemporary sentencing issues, (e.g., Megan's law, drug court, restorative approaches, victim-offender mediation, prisoner services, juvenile sentencing, parental responsibility laws, race and sex discrimination). (2 credits)

Contact:  Linda Meyer, School of Law