Curriculum Guide · Courses
Mass Incarceration and Solitary Confinement
Professors Winter and Shapiro
J.D. Practicum 1080 | 3 credit hours
The seminar portion of this course will explore the phenomenon of mass incarceration in the United States, with an emphasis on the increasing reliance by prison systems on solitary confinement: the practice of isolating prisoners alone in their cells with little or no human interaction, accompanied by extreme sensory deprivation and for prolonged periods of time—years or even decades. Students will read and discuss a wide range of materials, including judicial decisions, scholarly publications, and litigation materials (for example, pleadings, testimony transcripts, expert reports, and prisoner declarations) in cases litigated by the instructors. Some classes will be joined by guest experts on solitary confinement, such as correctional psychiatrists and former prisoners. In the field work portion of this course, students, working with the professors, will pursue open records requests and administrative appeals to obtain information about the use of solitary confinement in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government. Students will also correspond or speak with current or former prisoners who have experienced solitary confinement. All students will contribute to a report on the use of solitary confinement in the United States, to be published by ACLU in 2013. Each student will prepare a research paper on some aspect of solitary confinement. The research papers, results of the FOIA requests, and the students’ communications with prisoners will incorporated in the ACLU Report. Students will be publicly credited for their contributions.
Prerequisites: Students must complete the required first-year program prior to enrolling in this course (part-time and interdivisional transfer students may enroll prior to completing Criminal Justice, Property, or their first-year elective).
Students may not concurrently enroll in this practicum course and a clinic or another practicum course. Students may concurrently enroll in this practicum course and an externship.
This is a 3 credit course. 2 credits will be awarded for the 2-hour weekly seminar and 1 credit for approximately 5 hours of supervised work per week, for a minimum of 11 weeks. Both the seminar portion and the supervised work will be graded.