AMST 3141 Prisons
The United States stands alone among Western, industrialized countries with its persistent, high rates of incarceration, long sentences, and continued use of the death penalty. This “American exceptionalism” – the turn to mass incarceration – has been fostered by the use of sharply-delineated categories that define vast numbers of people as outlaws and others as law-abiding. These categories that are based on ideas of personal responsibility and assumptions about race are modified somewhat by a liberal commitment to human rights. Our purpose in this course is to understand how such ideas have taken root and to locate the consequences of these ideas for policy and practice.