Race, Policing and Prosecutors: Perspectives, Problems, and Possibilities


Course Code:
LAW 788
Law Mandatory P/R/F


Prompted by the killings of Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, this 1 unit mini-course will draw on a wide array of materials to examine the challenges and injustices that arise at the intersection of race and policing in the United States. The first part of the course will consider alternative accounts of the central problems at the intersection of race and law enforcement, and will explore the roots of distrust between minority communities and law enforcement agencies. The course will examine the social, psychological, historical and institutional roots of these problems. The second part of the course will survey various reform proposals. What are the possibilities and limits of civil rights actions? Is reform best undertaken by courts or legislatures? By the federal government or by states? Some reforms focus on prosecutors, e.g. limiting prosecutorial discretion, eliminating grand juries. Other reforms focus on policing, e.g. racial sensitivity or procedural justice training, requiring body cameras, creating more racially representative police forces. To what extent should solutions be pursued through new forms of democratic oversight and accountability (such as police civilian review boards) or through community organizing efforts. Does racially just and effective policing require controlling and constraining the police, or working collaboratively with law enforcement agencies? This 1 unit course is Mandatory Pass/Fail, and will meet only three times during the course of the quarter. Attendance and participation at each class session is required. Prior to each class session, each student will post questions, observations or reflections that will provide the basis for class discussion. The class will meet from 2-5 pm the following Fridays: January 16, February 6, and February 27. Elements used in grading: Class Participation, Attendance & Written Assignments.

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