This course will investigate the legal and policy implications of current topics in criminal law and procedure. Past topics have included abolitionism, the funding of criminal legal systems, drug policy, hate crimes, the criminalization of homelessness, juvenile justice reform, voter disenfranchisement following a conviction, and the increasing use of technology in criminal legal systems. Students will learn to identify and understand the complexities of these issues—including the federal-state relationship in criminal policy, the real world impact of current and proposed practices, the importance of economic incentives to criminal justice reform, and the way in which these issues cause divisions between political allies and alliances between political foes—as well as to address the role that lawyers and other advocates play in shaping these laws and policies. Background in or familiarity with criminal procedure is recommended, but not a prerequisite.
Current Topics in Criminal Law