Law Schedule of Classes

NOTE: Course offerings change. Classes offered this semester may not be offered in future semesters.

234.21 sec. 001 - Dismantling Mass Incarceration (Spring 2020)

Instructor: Tony Cheng  (view instructor's teaching evaluations - degree students only)
View all teaching evaluations for this course - degree students only

Units: 1

Due to COVID-19, law school classes were graded as credit/no pass in spring 2020.


    W 6:25 PM - 8:15 PM
    Location: Law 134
    From January 15, 2020
    To February 26, 2020

Course Start: January 15, 2020
Course End: February 26, 2020
Class Number (1Ls): 32529
Class Number: 32529

Enrollment info:
Enrolled: 10
Waitlisted: 0
Enroll Limit: 22
As of: 06/16 11:02 PM

This one-unit seminar provides students with both a broad survey of both the underlying causes and invidious effects of the exploding prison and jail population in the United States, as well as the potential costs and benefits of reforms targeted at this crisis. Students will study how generally well-intentioned but ultimately misguided efforts undertaken in the name of public safety have resulted in a 500% increase in the number of people incarcerated in the United States over the last forty years, as well as the creation of a growing, pervasive and racially disparate underclass ensnared by the direct and collateral consequences of these policies.

Assigned reading materials will prepare students to analyze and discuss the myriad factors that contribute to the racial disparities in policing, charging and sentencing inherent in the criminal justice system. Students will think critically about the confluence of societal, economic and political trends underlying recent efforts at reform, as well as the viability of other potential strategies, especially vis-à-vis today’s polarized political climate. In addition, students will question and debate the role that advocates can play in increasing public awareness of, and working towards solutions to, the dire social, economic and political consequences of mass incarceration.


Tony Cheng is the Director of the Youth Defender Clinic (YDC) at the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC), a community-based legal services clinic affiliated with Berkeley Law. Clinical law students in the YDC represent system-involved and at-risk youth in Alameda County in both juvenile delinquency proceedings and school discipline matters. Prior to joining EBCLC in 2018, Tony practiced as a public defender for twenty years, litigating cases in the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals, the federal district court for the Southern District of California, San Diego County Superior Court and, most recently, Alameda County Superior Court. In addition to trying nearly forty criminal jury trials to verdict during his public defender career, Tony is also certified by the National Juvenile Defender Center to train juvenile defenders and has contributed to training and educational materials published by the Pacific Juvenile Defense Center.

Attendance at the first class is mandatory for all currently enrolled and waitlisted students; any currently enrolled or waitlisted students who are not present on the first day of class (without prior permission of the instructor) will be dropped. The instructor will continue to take attendance throughout the add/drop period and anyone who moves off the waitlist into the class must continue to attend in order not to be dropped.

Exam Notes: (P) Final paper  
This is a credit only course
Course Category: Social Justice and Public Interest
This course is listed in the following sub-categories:
Criminal Law

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