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NPR's Morning Edition: "Inside San Quentin, Inmates Go To College"

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  • In 2013-2014, I coordinated the Stanford graduate student led course offered at San Quentin State Prison through the Stanford Criminal Justice Center and the Prison University Project. In the fall, I organized the application process, orientation, syllabus development, and course planning for Stanford graduate students applying to co-teach this advanced seminar at San Quentin. In the spring, I coordinated and co-taught the course.

    Course Description: This course examines incarceration through diverse interdisciplinary perspectives. It is divided into three thematic units over 13 weeks. First, we will consider conceptions of criminality found in philosophy, law, and literature. Topics will include intentional action, reactive attitudes, the ethics of punishment, as well as fictional conceptions of criminality found in short stories. We will then look at the role of socialization and inequality in entry into and life inside the carceral state. In this unit, we will consider the role of a number of factors in the production of social inequality and in socialization both inside and outside of the carceral state, including education, capitalism, religion, and other political, legal, and cultural factors. We will consider the case of the United States in depth, as well as engage in a comparative analysis of the United States and Scandinavia. Finally, we will turn our attention to current topics in criminal justice, including collateral consequences, implicit and explicit racial bias (exemplified in Stop and Frisk in New York), and realignment in California. In this unit, we will explore the social and legal significance of these current controversies, drawing connections to the conceptions of criminality and roles of social inequality in incarceration that were our focus in the first two units.

    Coordinator and Co-Instructor: Rebecca M. Taylor

  • I co-taught this semester-long weekly seminar at San Quentin State Prison as part of the Prison University Project (Patten University). The course brought together San Quentin students, who had completed the associate's degree program offered and wanted to continue their studies, and a group of Stanford graduate students. The theme of the course was democracy and incarceration. Throughout the semester, students were introduced to interdisciplinary approaches to the study of incarceration in democratic societies, including philosophy, political science, and law. I led the portion of the seminar on the topic of political philosophy and democratic decision-making.

    Course Coordinators: Wendy Salkin and Kristen Bell