This 3-credit seminar will utilize a multisectoral approach to encourage critical thinking with a view of challenging preconceived notions about what prison is and why it exists. It is designed to provide students with not only a basis to understand the theories underlying the carceral state, but also the practical skills necessary to navigate prison law and advocate on behalf of those on the inside.
Students will hear from and engage in discussion with prisoners, legal practitioners, prison officials, and academics with expertise in (de)carceration. Readings, videos, and audio recordings will also be used to learn about the history and ideology behind prisons and punishment in Canada.
This seminar will examine the legislation that empowers governments to create and maintain prison systems (i.e. the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Correctional Services Transformation Act), as well as the regulations, directives and policies which guide the day-to-day operations. It will also review jurisprudence from all levels of court on issues such as:
· solitary confinement;
· prisoners’ right to vote;
· habeas corpus remedies;
· tort actions and civil litigation against correctional officials;
· international prisoner transfers;
· conditional release;
· prison abolition; and
· labour (union) organizing among prisoner populations.
Independent audits, coroner’s inquests, and other inquiries into jails and prisons will also feature prominently.