Decarceration Practicum

The number of people locked-up in New York State prisons has fallen considerably. Still, over 30,000 men and women remain incarcerated (this does not include thousands of others in pre-trial detention).

I’d been told time and time again that I was a nobody, that I had no worth. But Sarah and the others came in with a sense of humanity—they viewed me as a human being, as the person I am now, which really startled me. It was amazing to me that there were people in the world who could look at someone like me and see some good rather than judging.

This seminar will address mass incarceration from a problem-solving perspective by first engaging in problem identification, and then studying and critiquing a range of current, proposed and aspirational efforts to end mass incarceration in New York. We will study current statutory efforts at reform, the parole system, clemency, political organizing, the role of social movements such as Black Lives Matter, and the influence of Abolition theory, and we will do so in the context of focusing on people convicted of crimes deemed violent that have caused significant harm. We will examine the role of lawyers in each of these endeavors as well. Students will take on practice-based writing assignments ranging from litigation filings, proposed legislation, op-eds, training materials, research memos, and reflection pieces.