Topics in Criminal Justice Policy Reform: Addressing the Criminalization of Poverty

Class Unique: 28565

This course will address pressing current issues in criminal justice policy reform.  While there are many aspects of the American criminal justice system badly in need of reform, from policing to sentencing to prison conditions, this course will address a set of issues linked by their impact on people living in poverty (and therefore also disproportionately people from racial and ethnic minority groups).  Almost every aspect of the criminal justice system has a disparate impact on poor people, but some practices actually punish people solely because they are poor—for example, bail practices that jail people who would be free if only they had enough money to pay their way out;  fees and fines that lead to the incarceration of those unable to pay them because of poverty; the prosecution of mentally ill people who either would not offend or would not be sentenced to incarceration if their families could afford the mental health services that the poor are unable to access; and the incarceration of juvenile offenders who would not be prosecuted if they came from wealthy families or attended schools where discipline was not enforced by police officers.  Taken together, such practices amount to the criminalization of poverty in the United States.  This course will address a set of the issues under this rubric, attempting to understand the possibilities for and the obstacles to meaningful reform.




Class Details

Short course from 1/28/19 through 3/4/19

Meeting Days Time Location
Monday 3:45 - 6:15 pm TNH 3.126
Evaluation Method Date Time Alpha Range Room

Additional Information

Course Type
Grading Method
Pass/Fail Mandatory


Steiker, Carol Steiker, Carol