Race and Criminal Justice

Section 1ZO, Fall 20

Schedule Information

Enrollment: 18/18
Credits: 3

Course Description

It is said that “justice is blind.” Yet, contemporary criminal justice cannot be understood without reference to race. Racial disparities describe the American experience, and those disparities are expressed and felt most acutely within the criminal-legal system. At all stages of the criminal process, people of color and other historically disadvantaged groups are over-represented. Police officers and prosecutors arrest and charge minority suspects at high rates. Prison populations are disproportionately Black and Brown. Constitutional doctrines navigate this space: equal protection; jury trial rights; and prohibitions against vague statutes, unreasonable searches and seizures, and cruel and unusual punishment. In this course, we discuss the promise and shortcomings of many of these doctrines—the manner by which the system counteracts or causes racial injustice. Likewise, we examine the influence of other forms of legal regulation, as well as the roles played by politics, sociology, culture, and history. We proceed through each major stage of the criminal justice process—policing, prosecution, adjudication, and punishment—identifying important questions and concerns that arise at each stage. Classes center on candid and critical discussions. Attendance at the first session (in-person or virtually) is extremely important, absent unavoidable extenuating circumstances.

Course Requirements

Exam Info:
Midterm Type (if any): None
Description: None

Final Type (if any): None
Description: None
Final Exam Notes:


Written Work Product
Written Work Product: Students will be expected to submit a final paper via EXPO (details and deadlines to be announced). There may also be shorter papers due during the semester. In order for a student to count the final paper toward their Upper-Level Writing Requirement, they must obtain instructor approval AND timely submit a signed Writing Requirement Intent Form to SRO.

Other Work

Other Course Details
Prerequisites: None Concurrencies: None
Mutually Exclusive With: None
Laptops Allowed: No
First Day Attendance Required: Yes
Course Notes:

Graduation Requirements

*Satisfies Writing Requirement: No
**Credits For Prof. Skills Requirement: No
Satisfies Professional Ethics: No

*Yes means professor requires everyone in the course to submit a substantial research paper (which is the requirement standard in Academic Policies), so no paperwork required to be submitted to SRO. No means student must timely submit paperwork to SRO if intending to use a paper in this course to satisfy the Writing Requirement.

**Yes indicates course credits count towards UVA Law’s Prof. Skills graduation requirement, not necessarily a skills requirements for any particular state bar.

General Information

Schedule No.
Law No.
Modified Type
Cross Listed: No
Cross-Listed Course Mnemonic:
Public Syllabus Link: None
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Opens:
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Closes: