Indigent Defense

Course Information

Registration Information

Meeting Times

Day Time Location
WED 3:55 - 5:45 pm CCJ 3.306

Evaluation Method

Type Date Time Location


America incarcerates people at a rate higher than most countries in the world and those incarcerated are disproportionately low-income and from communities that have been historically neglected and oppressed. Course materials will examine how the socio-economic and racial disparities in the population of people incarcerated in America reflects this country’s history of poverty, slavery, and segregation.  The course will cover several theories about the drivers of mass incarceration and the legal and philosophical foundations of public defense.  

This course will explore theoretical, philosophical, and practical elements of indigent criminal defense, exploring questions such as: How do criminal justice theory and practice interact? What can an individual lawyer do to further her client's interests within this context? What is the role of the public defender in criminal justice reform? How does a public defender maintain the long view on mass incarceration and socio-economic and racial inequalities in the criminal justice system while advocating for her individual clients? What roles and tools are available, besides line public defense, for future lawyers to fill and utilize in enacting the promise of Gideon

Weekly reading assignments will explore these topics and students will be required to discuss their reflections during class discussions.

Textbooks ( * denotes required )

Locking up Our Own: Crime and Punishment *
Forman, James, Jr.
Mps , edition: 1
ISBN: 978-0-374-53744-9
Charged : The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration *
Bazelon, Emily
Random House Publishing Group
ISBN: 978-0-399-59003-0
Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incar *
Pfaff, John
Hachette Book Group , edition: 1
ISBN: 978-0-465-09691-6
Homeward: Life In The Year After Prison: Life In T *
Western, Bruce
Chicago Distribution Center
ISBN: 978-0-87154-955-6
The New Jim Crow : Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness *
Alexander, Michelle
New Press, The
ISBN: 978-1-62097-193-2
In Their Names : The Untold Story of Victims' Rights, Mass Incarceration, and the Future of Public Safety *
Anderson, Lenore
New Press, The
ISBN: 978-1-62097-712-5
Radical Acts of Justice : How Ordinary People Are Dismantling Mass Incarceration *
Simonson, Jocelyn
New Press, The
ISBN: 978-1-62097-744-6


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