Law Schedule of Classes

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

Apart from their assigned mod courses, 1L students may only enroll in courses offered as 1L electives. A complete list of these courses can be found on the 1L Elective Listings page. 1L students must use the 1L class number listed on the course description when enrolling.

234.21 sec. 001 - Dismantling Mass Incarceration (Spring 2021)

Instructor: Tony Cheng  (view instructor's teaching evaluations - degree students only)
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Units: 1
Grading Designation: Credit Only
Mode of Instruction: Remote Instruction


Tu 6:25 PM - 8:15 PM
Location: Internet/Online
From January 19, 2021
To March 02, 2021

Course Start: January 19, 2021
Course End: March 02, 2021
Class Number (1Ls): 32185
Class Number: 32185

Enrollment info:
Enrolled: 14
Waitlisted: 0
Enroll Limit: 22
As of: 05/08 05:45 AM

This seminar provides students with 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 specifically 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 segregated 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 that result in the structural racism endemic in our criminal justice system. Students will think critically about the confluence of societal, economic and political trends underlying recent efforts at reform, and debate the viability of other potential strategies, especially vis-à-vis today’s polarized political climate. In addition, students will examine and question 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), the community-based legal services clinic affiliated with Berkeley Law. Clinical law students in YDC represent system-involved and system-adjacent 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 (NJDC) to train juvenile defenders and serves as CFO on the board of directors for the Pacific Juvenile Defense Center (PJDC).

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

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