Incarceration in New York City: History, Politics, and Policy
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Level: Undergraduate, Graduate
Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students
Department: Social Sciences
Course Number: NSOC 4533
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
  • Politics
  • Urban Studies
  • History
The United States has the highest incarceration rates in the world: the country represents 5% of the world’s population but 25% of the world’s prison population.The incarcerated are also much more likely to be people of color: 1 in 3 black men today will have been in prison at some point in their lives. But, in 1970, our prison population was decreasing on an annual basis. What happened? This class examines this national dilemma through a local lens by researching the history, politics, and policy regarding crime and punishment in New York City since the 19th century.The most well-known prisons may be far away from the city (such as Attica) or literally enclosed by water (Rikers Island) but the realities of imprisonment are everywhere around us in detention centers, halfway-houses, products made by prisoners, and industries supplying them. We conduct research to uncover how crime and punishment have been imprinted into the urban landscape and consider how politics and policies have shaped the issues at municipal, state, and national levels. Through identification of key places, events, and people in our research, we hope to reveal the personal and societal costs of this distinctive characteristic of contemporary American life. The class is part of the Humanities Action Lab: Global Dialogue Project that is creating a public exhibit and discussion of incarceration over the next two years. Open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students.
Course Open to: Degree Students