Prisons and Prisoners
01 202 203

Michael Welch, Ph.D.
Criminal Justice

Office: Lucy Stone Hall A-357, Livingston Campus
Office Hours: Tuesday & Thursday 3.44pm to 4.44pm



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.


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).


Escape to Prison: Chapters 1 (Penal Tourism), 2 (The Museum Effect), 3 (Dream of Order), (4) Architecture Parlante

Corrections: A Critical Approach: Chapters 4 (Theoretical Penology), 15 (The Corrections Industry)


Escape to Prison: Ch 8 (Colonialism and Resistance), Ch 9 (Memorialization), Ch 10 (Cultural Power)

Corrections: A Critical Approach: Ch 9 (Assaults and Riots) Ch 10 (The Death Penalty), Ch 16 (War on Drugs),

FINAL PROJECT. As you embark on the BEST paper ever written TBA Your paper should be TWELVE pages (single-spaced, 12 pitch). (Use citation style contained in the book Escape to Prison.) Precious points will be awarded to critiques boasting an insightful title. The work is due TBA at 1:44pm. Deliver it in class and not via email. Brutal penalties apply for late arrivals. Should you want your paper returned, please provide a self-addressed (adequately) stamped envelope. Otherwise, you may collect your paper next semester in my office.

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

Program in Criminal Justice, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, March 2008

Learning Goals: A Statement of Principles

The Program Committee for the Program in Criminal Justice at Rutgers University in New Brunswick has adopted a series of learning goals for students who complete the major. These goals represent the consensus of the faculty regarding the concepts a student should grasp and the skills a student should acquire in the course of completing the major. These goals guide the choices faculty make about the structure of the curriculum and the requirements for our majors. Moreover, they guide faculty and instructors preparing course material and teaching courses.

The Program in Criminal Justice will provide students with a rich understanding of crime and criminal justice in the United States and abroad through an interdisciplinary approach that blends a strong liberal arts educational experience with pre-professional instruction in the field of criminal justice. Graduates of the program will be well-informed citizens on the topic of crime and justice, and qualified for graduate study or for employment as practitioners in a variety of legal, policymaking, and law enforcement fields.

Criminal justice majors graduating from a research university should be able to use critical thinking, factual inquiry, and the scientific approach to solve problems related to individual and group behavior. In addition, students should have an understanding of the legal, political and policymaking processes that affect criminal justice systems in the United States and elsewhere in the world. Finally, students should be familiar with the institutional structures and latest developments in the field in order to engage in meaningful debate about current public policy issues.

Learning Goals for Criminal Justice Majors


Theory. Students who complete the major in criminal justice should understand and be able to articulate, both orally and in writing, the core theoretical concepts that form the foundation of analysis and research in criminology and criminal justice today. Core concepts are derived from explanations of crime from a variety of perspectives, including biogenic, psychological, and sociological approaches. There are myriad theories of crime that are informed by these perspectives, including, classical, control, critical, ecology, labeling, learning, strain, and trait-based approaches. Theoretical literacy should extend to multicultural and international understanding.

Institutions. Students who complete the major in criminal justice should understand the special role of three types of institutions: Police, Corrections, and Courts. In addition, students should know how institutional forms vary across jurisdictions and how these institutions interact with and influence each other.

Research Methods. Students who complete the criminal justice major should be familiar with the tools, techniques, and data sources necessary for empirical analysis. Students should understand the various ways that empirical analysis is used in the scientific approach: for description, for developing, and for testing theories. They should be able to analyze data using computer applications and should be familiar with basic statistical techniques and regression analysis. They should be able to read and assess research from a wide range of sources, including general interest, academic, and government publications.

Critical Thinking: Upon completion of the major students should be able to apply their understanding of core concepts and quantitative tools to analyze and research real world problems, and evaluate alternative policy proposals on a range of criminal justice issues, from micro-level analyses relevant to particular cases to management concerns to macro-level analyses of legislative and other broad-scale policies. Accomplishment of this goal will require that students can apply their literacy and numeracy skills to different institutional structures, within the U.S. and across countries.

Scholarship: Qualified majors should have an opportunity through such avenues as advanced coursework, internships, and faculty interactions to conduct independent research on matters of central relevance to the field of criminal justice.