Law 389 - Prison Law and Policy

Sharon Dolovich

Sharon Dolovich

Professor of Law
Faculty Director, UCLA Prison Law & Policy Program
B.A. Queen's University
Ph.D. Cambridge University
J.D. Harvard Law School
UCLA Faculty Since 2000
Course Description:

Courses in criminal law tend to focus on the “front end” of the criminal justice process:  investigation, prosecution, and verdict. But for those offenders sentenced to prison, the trial  process is only the preamble to an extended period in the custody of the state. This class focuses in depth on a key component of the “back end” of the criminal justice system: the law and policy of incarceration. The governing questions are: what legal obligations does the state have toward those it incarcerates? And given legal limits, how should we run the prisons? These questions are particularly urgent given the current size of the nations prison population; as of 2018, there were just shy of 2.2 million people in Americas prisons and jails, more prisoners per capita than any other country in the world. Topics to be covered  include: the history of prisoners’ rights litigation; the scope of prisoners’ constitutional  rights; inmate access to the courts; the prison disciplinary process; conditions of confinement (including supermax prisons); medical care; the problems of prison rape and overcrowding; and the Prison Litigation Reform Act. The use of laptops is not permitted in this class.

Course Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the semester, students will have a deep understanding of the relevant legal doctrine, as well as the political dynamics and judicial culture that shape this area of the law. This course will also equip students to recognize the multiple layers of meaning -- historical and political as well as doctrinal -- that are always present in any prison law case decided in the federal courts. 

Course Information:
​Faculty Term Course Section ​Schedule ​Units Requisite Satisfies SAW
Sharon Dolovich 19S 389 LEC 1 MW 3:20 PM - 5:20 PM 4.0 No No