Department of Sociology

Mary Ellen Stitt

MA, Latin American Studies, Tulane University

Mary Ellen Stitt



SOC S307T • Punishment And Society

83834 • Summer 2019
Meets MTWTHF 11:30AM-1:00PM SAC 5.102



Has the U.S. criminal legal system reached a turning point?  After four decades of precipitous growth, the system is facing growing challenges from groups across the political spectrum.  Talk about "criminal justice reform" is everywhere.  But what, exactly is this system?  How does it work, and what role does it play in U.S. society? What does it take to change it?  This course will provide tools to answer these questions by tracing the criminal legal process through law, policing, pretrial incarceration, prosecution, sentencing, and imprisonment.  At each stage, we will consider implications for racial and economic inequality and the impacts of reforms past and present.  Throughout, we will use sociological theory to illuminate the social forces shaping contemporary state punishment.

Required Texts:

The required readings will be available on Canvas. No book purchases will be needed.


Grading Policy:

Four open-book exams will account for 60% 

In-class activities  20%.

A final paper  20%.


Curriculum Vitae

Profile Pages

  • Department of Sociology

    The University of Texas at Austin
    305 E 23rd St, A1700
    RLP 3.306
    Austin, TX 78712-1086