Punishment in America
Honors Seminar
12 090 286 01

Michael Welch, Ph.D.
Criminal Justice

Secretary's telephone: 445-7215
Office: Lucy Stone Hall B-259, Livingston Campus
Office Hours: 1:45pm to 2:45pm Monday & Thursday



Punishment in America offers students an opportunity to examine critically the nature of punishment in the United States. In addition to reviewing traditional theories and perspectives on punishment, we shall explore the underlying meaning and function of formal and informal penalties. The course goes beyond the study of lawbreakers so that we may also attend to the roles of lawmakers and moral entrepreneurs instrumental in formulating criminal justice policies. Numerous topics and controversial issues will be discussed at length: including, a social history of punishment, the realities of incarceration, sentences for drug violations, the death penalty, as well as the imprisonment of racial and ethnic minorities, the impoverished, female offenders, and juveniles. The general aim of the course is to foster an intelligent and sophisticated view of punishment in America.


Welch, Michael (1999) Punishment in America: Social Control & the Ironies of Imprisonment. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.

Welch, Michael (2000) Flag Burning: Moral Panic and the Crimnalization of Protest. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

Bring your books to each class.


Two Exams: 100 points each
Review Essay: 100 points
Total Semester Points: 300

There are NO extra-credit assignments.

Final Grades:

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

Exam One:
Punishment in America Foreward by Todd Clear
Chapter 1: The Discovery of the Penitentiary and the Emergence of Social Control
Chapter 2: Critical Criminology, Social Justice, and an Alternative View of Incarceration
Chapter 3: The Contours of Race, Social Class, and Punishment: Exploring Institutional Biases in Corrections
Chapter 4: The War on Drugs and Correctional Warehousing: Alternative Strategies for the Drug Crisis
Chapter 5: Regulating the Reproduction and Morality of Women: The Social Control of Body and Soul
Chapter 7: A Critical Interpretation of Correctional Boot Camps as Normalizing Institutions: Discipline, Punishment, and the Military Model
Chapter 9: The Machinery of Death: Capital Punishment and the Ironies of Social Control

Exam Two:
Punishment in America Chapter 10: The Poverty of Interest in Human Rights Violations in U.S. Prisons
Chapter 11: Prisoners with HIV/AIDS: Discrimination, Fringe Punishments, and the Production of Suffering
Chapter 13: The Corrections Industry: Economic Forces and the Prison Enterprise

Flag Burning: Moral Panic and the Crimnalization of Protest


Your task is to select a book on the topic of punishment or prisons and prepare a critical review essay of 10 typed, double-spaced, pages. Your book selection must be approved by Michael Welch; moreover, your selection ought not be a textbook, anthology, or edited volume.