Roscoe Jones Photo

Roscoe Jones

Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy


Mass incarceration is one of the fundamental policy challenges of our time.  Over 2 million Americans are behind bars—more than any other industrialized nation, we spend billions of dollars on punishment, and minorities and other marginalized groups are disproportionately affected. Today, policy makers on both the left and right recognize that an urgent need exists for the American criminal justice system to be less punitive. Yet, substantial questions exist over how to fix the criminal justice system, who to focus on, what reforms are needed, and how far reforms should go. The first half of this course examines the historical events and philosophical ideas that cause, shape, and sustain mass incarceration. What accounts for the growth of America’s incarceration experiment?  What are its historical origins?  What are its modern consequences?  The second half of the course explores current criminal justice reform policy challenges and potential solutions. Topics include bail and jail reform, fines and fees, sentencing reform, solitary confinement, and felony disenfranchisement. The aim of this course is to provide students with an overview of the U.S. criminal justice reform movement and its policy challenges.  The course will hone students’ ability to critically assess criminal justice policy and understand how we arrived at this vexing problem, what can be done, and what are the limits of reform efforts.  The instructor will introduce topics and guide discussion.  No disciplinary background is assumed, nor is any special familiarity with the field of criminal justice required.