Protests throughout the nation related to policing, racial discrimination and criminal justice reform have prompted the University of Wyoming’s Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology to offer a summer short course for those interested in learning more about those topics.
According to a UW press release, “Current Issues in Criminal Justice and Policing,” taught by several department faculty members, will take place online over three weeks July 6-24. It’s an addition to the university’s lineup of summer courses created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There are a variety of issues that are contributing to this protest movement, and it can be difficult to make sense of what it all means for our country,” department head, Professor Adrienne Freng said. “This course will expose individuals to valid, evidence-based information to gain a better understanding of the criminal justice system in the United States, including readings, videos, invited experts in the field and discussion panels.”
The course is offered for credit to UW students and as a professional development course for people who would just like to participate.
Among the specific topics to be covered are: crime and the criminal justice system; crime rate discrepancies; arrest and entering the criminal justice system; the role of police; defining police use of excessive force and killings; institutional racism; police legitimacy and procedural justice; criminal justice reform; courts and sentencing; and incarceration and reentry.
“The recent events have highlighted a difficult but all-too-well-known reality of our criminal justice system, and that is the racial and ethnic biases that exist not only in our criminal justice system, but our society as a whole,” Freng said. “Research has consistently revealed that the experiences and perceptions of the justice system by people of color are often very different from that of whites.
“Despite the shortcomings of our criminal justice system, we believe it also is important that we recognize the difficult and often thankless job undertaken by law enforcement officers and other criminal justice professionals across the country,” she said. “It should be highlighted that we can be critical of the shortcomings of our justice system while, at the same time, supporting those women and men who risk their lives on a daily basis to make their communities a better place for all.”