Philosophy of Criminality and Forgiveness Syllabus


Philosophy of Criminality and Forgiveness Syllabus

Welcome to the Philosophy of Criminality and Forgiveness, a course for the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, and Reentry. As the title suggests, this course is broken into two chapters: one on criminality and the dubious notion of the born criminal; the other about forgiving and being forgiven.

Philosophy of Criminality and Forgiveness Course

This course examines the connection between philosophy and the law. Specifically, this course critically examines the notion of the ‘born criminal.’ Are certain groups or individuals born with a predisposition for criminal behavior? It may initially seem that philosophy is unrelated to this question, but it is helpful to remember that the law, and legal reasoning, are branches of philosophy. As such, the merits of the ‘born criminal thesis’ can be analyzed under a philosophical framework.

Incarcerated Parents Manual

If you are a parent and are in prison or in jail, navigating the different possibilities of what may happen to your child/children while you are incarcerated may be extremely difficult. After passing the Adoption and Safe Families Act, the federal government incentivized states, including Arizona, to place children who are in foster care up for adoption as quickly as possible.

Free Government Cellphones

Lifeline phone service is a federal program that gifts free cellphones to American on government assistance and those who fall below certain income thresholds. Find out if you are eligible.

Marijuana Misdemeanor Expungement Act

In the ongoing debate over federal marijuana law, criminal justice reforms have concentrated on felonies due to the seriousness of the charges and accompanying punishments. This felony focus overlooks the problems facing those with records for misdemeanors and other low-level violations of federal marijuana law, which often carry collateral consequences that overshadow any official punishment.

Letter of Support for the Commutation Petition of Weldon Angelos

On November 13, 2013, over 100 signatories – including former judges and prosecutors, former elected and appointed government officials, and prominent authors, scholars, artists, activists, and business leaders – sent a letter to President Obama in support of a commutation petition by then imprisoned Weldon Angelos, who was serving 55 years in prison for a first time marijuana offense.

Democratic Accountability and Policing

Maria Ponomarenko, Adjunct Professor of Law and Deputy Director of the Policing Project at New York University, discusses how often when people talk about accountability in policing, they are focused on “back-end” accountability, which kicks in after something has gone wrong. What is needed in policing is accountability on the “front end”—which means that the public gets to have a say in what the rules for policing should be in the first place.

What the Brain Saw: The Case of Trayvon Martin and the Need for Eyewitness Identification Reform

Valena Beety, Professor of Law and Deputy Director of the Academy for Justice here at Arizona State University, writes about how the shooting of Trayvon Martin caused many to question what exactly led to the death of an unarmed seventeen-year-old African-American teenager. This essay provides at least one answer: the brain in creating and preserving memories can distort one’s perception of events and people.

Race and Sentencing Disparity

Cassia Spohn, Foundation Professor of Criminology and Director of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, discusses how although the overt and widespread racism that characterized the operation of the criminal justice system during the early part of the 20th century has largely been eliminated, racial disparities in sentencing and punishment persist.

Race and Adjudication

Paul Butler, Albert Brick Professor in Law at Georgetown University, elaborates on how at virtually every step of adjudication—charging, setting bail, plea-bargaining, jury selection, trial, and sentencing—law enforcement officials exercise discretion in ways that disproportionately harm people of color.