Torture and Human Rights
01 202 497 02

Michael Welch, Ph.D.
Criminal Justice

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



In a post-9/11 world, torture has been revitalized as a (dubious) tool for the global war on terror. The course analyzes moral, ethical, and legal implications to policies and practices involving extraordinary renditions, detainee maltreatment, "enhanced" interrogation, and torture. Special attention is directed at the phenomenon known as modern torture in which "science" is incorporated into interrogation methods. Among other things, those "no-touch" torture tactics are designed to evade human rights prosecutions. (See also Learning Goals listed below.)

REQUIRED READINGS (to be distributed in class, bring a flash drive)

Welch, Michael (2019) In the Sites of Operation Condor: Memory and the Afterlives of Clandestine Detention Centers.

Welch, Michael (2009) "American Pain-ology in the War on Terror: A Critique of 'Scientific' Torture." Theoretical Criminology, 13(4): 451-474.

Welch, Michael (2011) Illusions in Truth Seeking: The Perils of Interrogation and Torture in the War on Terror. Social Justice: A Journal of Crime, Conflict & World Order, 37(2-3): 123-148.

Welch, Michael (2017) 'Doing Special Things To Special People in Special Places': Psychologists in the CIA Torture Program. The Prison Journal, 97(6):729-749.

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


Physicians for Human Rights (2014) Doing Harm: Health Professionals' Central Role in the CIA Torture Program. New York: Physicians for Human Rights.

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (2014) Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program. Unclassified. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing.

Institute on Medicine as a Profession (2013) Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism and Detainee Abuse in the War on Terror. New York: Institute on Medicine as a Profession


Two Exams: 100 points each
Two Papers: 50 points each

Total Semester Points: 300


Second Exam: TBA (Thursday) ABSOLUTELY NO MAKE-UP EXAMS!!!

First Paper: As you embark on the best critique ever written, please view the documentary COLONIA DIGNIDAD: Al Jazeera documentary ( Please do not search for any additional information on COLONIA DIGNIDAD; in other words, rely solely on class notes and the pdf IN THE SITES OF OPERATION CONDOR (by Professor Michael Welch, 14 Jan 2019). Accordingly, please analyze the film by attending to the following themes: Physical and Psychological abuse and torture; Pre-modern and Modern torture techniques; the role of the Nazi Culture; the role of the Pinochet Dictatorship; the role of the Courts; the afterlives of Colonia Dignidad. Your analysis should be SIX pages (single-spaced, 12 pitch). Also precious points will be awarded to those papers boasting an insightful title. The paper is due on 14 March (Thursday) at 5.04 pm. Deliver it in class and not via email. Brutal penalties apply for late arrivals.

SECOND PAPER: As your embark on the BEST critique ever written, please view the following documentary and film: THE GHOSTS OF ABU GHRAIB [] COMPLIANCE [] Drawing on your class notes and readings, please compare and contrast those incidents by attending to the following themes: authority, obedience, psychological manipulation, chain of command, and sexualization. Your critique should be SIX pages (single-spaced, 12 pitch). Also precious points will be awarded to those who provide an insightful title. The paper is due on THURSDAY 2 MAY at 5:07 pm. 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.

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

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.


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.