University of Miami School of Law Course Description - Online System
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Spring 2016

Course Description
• Mass Incarceration -With approximately two million people behind bars, the U.S. leads the world in the percentage of people behind bars. In addition to those incarcerated, another five million people are under the control of the criminal justice system. Incarceration rates are marked by shocking racial disparities. African American women are imprisoned at a rate nearly three times that of white women. Though African Americans are about 13% of the U.S. population, nearly 40% of male prisoners and 25% of female prisoners are African Americans. This course will examine research and theory on the causes of U.S. mass incarceration and its differential racial impact. We will examine the role of politics and law—legislation and Supreme Court decisions—on creating mass incarceration. The course will be an interdisciplinary course open to graduate students in other disciplines.
• Causal Factors - We will examine several theories for how it has come to pass that the U.S. leads the world in the number of people incarcerated and otherwise under the control of the criminal justice system.
• Consequences -This section of the course will examine the collateral consequences of mass incarceration for individual offenders and the consequences for their families and entire communities. We will also look at the research on social disorganization that finds links between law enforcement policies and negative results for entire communities.
• Remedies – We will examine both legislation and litigation remedies for aspects of the harms of mass incarceration. To the extent possible, we will meet with South Florida activists and attorneys who are working to remedy the harms of mass incarceration.

Students are expected to attend the UM Race & Social Justice Law Review panel, Mass Incarceration: Prison Conditions and the Collateral Damage to Communities of Color, Friday, March 18, 5-8 p.m.

Class Schedule – Though the class is a 3 credit course, we are meeting in a 4 credit time slot to give us more flexibility for projects and speakers. We will adjust our meeting times so that our aggregate meeting hours are no longer than that required for 3 credits.

Enrollment - Enrollment is limited and by application. Please submit your application to Professor Donna Coker at Please describe your interest in the topic, any work that you have been involved with that relates to the topic, and your career interests. Please indicate if you have a preference for enrollment in the upper level writing credit section or the projects section.

Course Schedule
Dates Day Time Room
01-11-2016 - 04-20-2016   TR  3:30 PM-4:50 PM A216B

Course Frequency

Course Information

Credits: 3
Pass/Fail Option: No
Method of Evaluation: All students are responsible for writing 2-3 small reflection papers. Law students enrolled for upper level writing credit are required to complete a substantial research paper. The paper should be of benefit to lawyers and community organizations involved in some aspect of opposing mass incarceration.
Graduation Requirements Fulfilled By Course:
Special Attributes: None
Special Restrictions: Course is capped at 14 Law students and is only open by permission.
Law Track(s): None
Bar Subject(s): None
Social Justice & Public Interest (Area of Focus)   More information
Social Justice & Public Interest (Concentration)   More information
Course Book(s): TBD/None      
First Class Assignment(s): TBD/None



Contact Information:
Phone: (305)284-3041
Office: G383