Prisons and Prisoners
01 202 203

Michael Welch, Ph.D.
Criminal Justice

Office: Lucy Stone Hall A-357, Livingston Campus
Office Hours: Tuesday & Thursday 4.44pm to 5.44pm

You Tube Channel: Professor Michael Welch



The course intends to survey the expanding boundaries of corrections, punishment, and social control. By emphasizing a critical approach to the criminal justice apparatus, prevailing myths and ideologies shall be confronted, allowing students to understand how key social forces (i.e., economics, politics, morality, and technology) shape the use of prisons in contemporary society. Likewise, considerable attention is directed at the internal workings of corrections, including various institutional problems and issues (e.g., violence, the death penalty, the war on drugs, racism, and classism). The general goal of the course is to foster an intelligent and sophisticated view of corrections and its many contradictions (see Learning Goals listed below). As a an addition to the course, Professor Welch will regularly share photographs of prison museums around the world. In doing so, students will immerse themselves into his new book, Escape to Prison: Penal Tourism & the Pull of Punishment (2015, University of California Press). The project includes research in 10 global cities that have converted a former prison into a museum. In alphabetical order, they are: Alcatraz (San Francisco), the Argentine Penitentiary Museum (Buenos Aires), the Clink (London), Constitution Hill (Johannesburg), Eastern State Penitentiary (Philadelphia), the Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum, Hyde Park Barracks (Sydney), the Melbourne Gaol, Robben Island (Cape Town), and the Seodaemun Prison History Hall (Seoul). Lectures will also include more recent slideshows from prisons in Belfast, Dublin, Montreal, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, as well as Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich.


Welch, Michael (2015) Escape to Prison: Penal Tourism & the Pull of Punishment. Berkeley, California: University of California Press.

Welch, Michael (2011) Corrections: A Critical Approach (3rd Edition). New York & London: Routledge.

Please note that Professor Welch does not profit financially from the sales of his books purchased by Rutgers students. All royalties are donated to an educational fund for international students. Cheers.


Welch, Michael (2016) Clinical Torture: Drifting in the Atrocity Triangle. Onati Socio-Legal Series, 6(4): 957-974. FREE DOWNLOAD


Welch, Michael (2009) Crimes of Power & States of Impunity: The U.S. Response to Terror. New Brunswick, New Jersey & London: Rutgers University Press.

Hughes, Robert (1986) The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia's Founding. New York: Knopf.



Two Exams: 100 points each
Final Paper: 100 points
Total Semester Points: 300

Exams consist of 50 multiple-guess items (2 points each), covering both lecture (50% of test) and reading assignments (50% of test).

Week 1: Intro/Overture / A Paris in Prison (foreshadow) Read: Escape to Prison: Chapter 1 (Penal Tourism)

Week 2: The Clink (London) / Eastern State (Philadelphia) Read: Escape to Prison: Chapter 2 (The Museum Effect)

Week 3: Argentine Prison Museum / Sydney Barracks, Melbourne Gaol Read: Escape to Prison: Chapters 3 (Dream of Order), (4) Architecture Parlante

Week 4: Penological Theory / Review Read: Corrections: A Critical Approach: Chapter 4 (Theoretical Penology)

Week 5: Prison Industrial Complex / Exam 1 (Thurs, 17 FEBRUARY) Read: Corrections: A Critical Approach: Chapter 15 (The Corrections Industry)

Week 6: Kilmainham Gaol (Dublin) / Old Fort, Number 4 (JoBurg) Read: Escape to Prison: Chapter 8 (Colonialism & Resistance)

Week 7: WomenŐs Jail, Robben Island (South Africa) / Seodaemun Prison History Hall (Seoul), Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum, Read: Escape to Prison: Chapter 9 (Memorialization)

Week 8: Prison Violence / Capital Punishment Read: Corrections: A Critical Approach: Chapters 9 (Assaults & Riots), 10 (The Death Penalty)


Week 10: War on Terror/ Review Read: Corrections: A Critical Approach: Chapter 17 (War on Terror)

Week 11: Alcatraz / Exam 2 (Thurs, 31 MARCH) Read: Corrections: A Critical Approach: Chapter 17 (War on Terror)

Week 12: Detention in Buenos Aires Read: Your Select Journal Articles (for The Final Project)

Week 13: Detention in Chile Watch Film: Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners Read: Your Select Journal Articles (for The Final Project)

Week 14: Prisons in Asuncion (Paraguay) y Montevideo (Uruguay)/ Angela Davis Exhibit at Zimmerli Art Museum (Rutgers) Read: Your Select Journal Articles (for The Final Project)

Week 15: Wrap-Up / Final Project (Thursday, 28 APRIL)

Final Grades:

90 - 100% A
87 - 89% B+
80 - 86% B
77 - 79% C+
70 - 76% C
60 - 69% D
00 - 59% F

ABSENTEE POLICY (for all courses taught by Professor Welch): A total of six absences (any combination of excused and unexcused) results in a FULL GRADE reduction (e.g., C falls to D).

MISSING CLASS? In the very unlikely event that you miss class. Do NOT email Professor Welch. Instead, have a classmate take notes for you - cheers!

TRIGGER ALERT: All courses taught by Professor Welch have a MAXIMUM trigger alert (e.g., graphic analysis of torture, especially at the hands of government operatives).

Nota Bene: Photographing, Video, or Audio recording are strictly prohibited, along with note-taking for commercial purposes.

This syllabus is subject to change.


Students often enroll in a class without the benefit of knowing much about the course, the professor, and what is expected of them. In deciding whether this course suits your personal needs, interests, and lifestyle, the following checklist may be of assistance. Should you have difficulty with any of these items, this course is probably not suited for you.

1. Attendance and punctuality
2. Rigorous reading assignments and challenging exams
3. Being aware of current events and the world around you
4. Tolerance for the ideas and opinions of others
5. Remaining attentive and riveted to each lecture
6. Abstract thinking and critical thought
7. True and amazing stories