234.22 sec. 001 - Dismantling the Carceral State (Fall 2020)
Instructor: Ahmed Lavalais
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Grading Designation: Credit Only
Due to COVID-19, this class is remote for Fall 2020.
Mode of Instruction: Remote Instruction
Tu 6:25 PM - 8:15 PM
From August 18, 2020
To September 29, 2020
Course End: September 29, 2020
Class Number (1Ls): 34343
Enroll Limit: 11
As of: 12/07 09:41 AM
This seminar will explore the role of law in constructing and maintaining the carceral state, and the transformative potential and inherent limits of law as a means of abolishing the prison industrial complex. We will analyze these issues using an abolitionist framework, and though there are a number of movements that refer to themselves as abolitionist and that are working to dismantle a wide range of interrelated oppressive systems (including, but not limited to, sexual violence, patriarchy, capitalism, heteronormativity, ableism, imperialism, and militarism), this course will focus specifically on the movement to abolish the prison industrial complex.
While abolitionists often resist closed definitions, we will ground our examination in three core tenets that are common to formulations of abolitionist philosophy: 1) The modern prison industrial complex can be traced back to chattel slavery and the racist regimes it relied on and sustained, 2) the criminal punishment system functions to oppress Black people and other politically marginalized groups in order to maintain racial hierarchy, and 3) we can imagine and build a more humane and just society that no longer defaults to violence and cages to solve social problems.
Specific questions we will consider include: How does the law enable the anti-Black violence that is central to racial hierarchy? What is the role of economic exploitation in maintaining the carceral state? What might community safety look like in a world without police, prosecutors, and prisons?
Finally, we will explore how law students and lawyers might operationalize abolitionist principles in their education and practice.
This class is among the special Fall 2020 1L elective seminars designed to give entering 1Ls an extra opportunity to form connections despite our remote form of interaction. In light of that goal, these classes will expect real-time attendance and may not be recorded. These classes will all be graded on a Credit/No Credit basis and total written work requirement will be no more than 8 double-spaced pages.
This course is only open to 1Ls.
Exam Notes: (P) Final paper
Course Category: Social Justice and Public Interest
This course is listed in the following sub-categories:
First Year Courses
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A reader will be used in this class.
Instructor has indicated that no books will be assigned.