Skip Navigation
UT wordmark
College of Liberal Arts wordmark
government masthead
Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Fall 2009

GOV 357M • Courts, Politics, Criminal Justice

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
39190 M
5:30 PM-8:30 PM
PAR 101
Millstone, J

Course Description

This upper divisional seminar (maximum class size of 30) aims to provide students with a course that reveals the inner workings of the criminal justice system in the United States and Texas—including the courts, prosecutors, and prisons—integrating examples drawn from the instructor's own experience. It will showcase contemporary issues, such as those associated with the role of law and politics in such matters as: the high profile criminal prosecution of Tom Delay; the allegations of excessive use of force by police in Austin; and the post 911 tension between national security and civil liberties. The analytical focus will be on how the political process shapes the criminal justice system. For example, we will examine how political ideologies, political culture, and electoral politics influence how police, prosecutors, courts, and prisons function.

The class will be organized around a set of principal questions, including: • What is criminal law and what are its main functions in the U.S. and Texas? • What is meant by the phrase "criminal justice system" and does the system metaphor help or hinder addressing and understanding specific policy issues, such as prison overcrowding or the drug problem? • How is the criminal justice system supposed to work? • How does the criminal justice system really function in practice? • How political is the criminal justice system? To shed light on these issues, we will turn to works from a variety of sources including law, criminal justice, and political science. Our framework for analysis will place the course themes within the context of government and politics.


To achieve the course objectives, we will turn to works from a variety of sources including law and political science, but also sociology, criminology, and philosophy. AMERICA'S COURTS AND THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM DAVID W. NEUBAUER 10:0-495-09540-0 Pub: THOMSON, Edition: 9th Year: 2008 (hereinafter referred to as Neubauer) CLASS, RACE, GENDER, CRIME: THE SOCIAL REALITIES OF JUSTICE IN AMERICA GREGG BARAK ET AL 10:0-7425-4688-8 Pub: ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD, Edition: 2ND Year: 2007 (hereinafter referred to Barak) COURTROOM 302 STEVE BOGIRA 10:0-679-75206-4 Pub: VINTAGE, Edition: Year: 2005 (hereinafter referred to as Bogira) JUDICIAL POLICY MAKING AND THE MODERN STATE MALCOLM FEELEY AND EDWARD RUBIN 0521777348 Pub: CAMBRIDGE, Edition: Year: 2000 (hereinafter referred to as Feeley) TULIA BLAKESLEE 158648219X Pub: CDS, Edition: Year: 2005 (hereinafter referred to as Blakeslee) Additional Readings: Court decisions and other readings will periodically be placed on the course Blackboard web site or handed-out in class.


bottom border