This reading group will examine the expansion of jails and prisons in the U.S. over the past 50 years. We will discuss the rise in incarceration, the composition of prison populations, the realities of everyday prison life, the uses of jails as temporary prisons, pretrial detention in the context of immigration and terrorism, the incarceration of juveniles, non-secure incarceration, the privatization of prisons, and post-incarceration conditions including civil commitment. We will pay special attention to "Supermax" prisons in the U.S. that place individuals into indefinite and sometimes permanent solitary confinement, and abolition movements that oppose this measure.
Students will read and discuss three articles or chapters per week, and prepare four response memos during the semester. The seminar will be linked both audiovisually and programmatically to the Liman Public Interest Seminar at Yale Law School. Students will participate in discussions at Yale, and Yale students will contribute to the Reading Group at Columbia. Students also will be encouraged to attend the Yale seminar.