Course Description


Chase, Freedman

LE: 20

This course examines the vibrant contemporary debate about criminal justice and related systems and the premises and viability of alternatives. These alternatives, ranging from youth, drug and re-entry courts to court or school-based restorative justice models to independent non-punitive modalities, all seek to reduce or eliminate harsh penalties, improve participant experience, and provide more creative paths to accountability and repair than the often devastating effects of the current retributive system. Reformist, abolitionist, intersectional and anti-racist perspectives will be explored, as will the challenges of expanding accountability without reliance on existing coercive practices that obscure and diminish reparative opportunities. After considering critiques of the existing system, the course will shift focus to several broad groupings of alternative approaches and a select group of specific contexts, which may include domestic violence and sexual assault as well as refugee and immigration statuses and issues. The course will then explore in more detail several successful models, including Unitive Justice, operating in Richmond, Virginia, and Theater of Witness, operating in Philadelphia and Northern Ireland. Students will have an opportunity to observe and experiment with practical skills associated with one or more models and will be expected to produce significant written material related to a research or other project.