Required and Optional Study - First Session
Note: Because of the unique nature of this course, the best way to get a jump start is to 1) become thoroughly familiar with the entire program website (syllabus, seminar protocol, faculty advice on how to approach this course, announcements, technical advice,  etc.) and 2) to take care of all technical problems as soon as possible.  As to the latter, most of you will experience no technical problems; some of you will want to pull your hair out.  There's no need for that; every problem has a solution.  By the way, 99% of the technical problems involve the chat room.  So, once you have access to our Web-X site, please give ample attention to making sure the chat room works properly on your computer and to making the suggested adjustments if it does not.   You will be notified by e-mail once you have been given access to our Web-X site (after you register and inform the instructor, as per the Web-X registration instructions).

Notice:  Some of the required reading files are in PDF format.  To read them, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader.  The debates are in streaming audio.  To listen to them, you will need a media player.  Links to the free software downloads for both of these can be found at the bottom of the course syllabus page.

Please note that a few of the topics below will change for the 2007 summer session. However, the topics for the first two weeks are set as scheduled.

TOPIC #1: On campus meeting in lieu of seminar: Moving Beyond Technical Problems


Normally there are two topics/questions each week. There is no actual "topic #1" for the first week because you need to get oriented to the course, to learn to fully navigate the course website as well as Web Crossing, and to get beyond technical problems that inevitably will arise for some of you. In lieu of studying a topic for the first part of the week, you are expected to:

1) spend time reading the course website to fully understand how this course works,

2) register in Web Crossing and to let me know you have done so, so that I can then put you on the Web Crossing access list,

3) spend time becoming familiar with the Web Crossing site, where you will post your writing and enter the chat room for your twice-weekly real time seminar,

4) test one of the chat rooms in Web Crossing to see if you need to clear up technical problems (see the course announcements 1-4 for details),

5) work on clearing up technical problems you may encounter with the chat room well before your first online seminar on Thursday or Friday.

See the Notices page of this web site for some troubleshooting instructions that you should follow if you find that the chat room will not load properly.  Only after you have followed those instructions should you seek technical assistance from the faculty.

For suggestions from your faculty about how to approach the work in this course, click here.

TOPIC #2: Should the Production, Sale and Use of Marijuana Be Decriminalized for Medicinal Purposes?
PLEASE NOTE:  On June 6, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court (see below under Optional Study Links) ruled that the federal government may prosecute ill people who use marijuana for medical purposes, despite state laws that allow this.  The question presented in Gonzales v. Raich was whether federal laws may pre-empt state laws on this question.  This does not make our policy question moot.  Congress could, for example, pass a law decriminalizing the use of medical marijuana.


  Listen to Debate:

"Menace or Medicine: Marijuana Reform on the Ballot" (NPR's "Justice Talking" series)
Medical Marijuana Referenda Movement in America, Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Crime, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives, October 1, 1997.  Testimony from two physicians with opposing views about whether marijuana should de legalized as medicine: 
Testimony of Lester Grinspoon, M.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

Testimony of Janet D. Lapey, M.D., Executive Director, Concerned Citizens for Drug Prevention, Inc.

United States Supreme Court Opinion  in Gonzales v. Raich, decided June 6, 2005 (ruling that the federal government may prosecute people who use marijuana for medical reasons, despite state laws permitting this).  Associated Press report on this ruling.

Nicole Dogwill, The Burning Question: How Will the United States Deal with the Medical Marijuana Debate?

Transcript of entire day's Medical Marijuana Referenda Movement in America hearing before the Subcommittee on Crime, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives, October 1, 1997 (Warning before you decide to print: very long document).

Lester Grinspoon, M.D., "Why Won't the Government Let Us Use Marijuana as Medicine?" (Boston Globe, December 7, 2000)

"Cannabis The Wonder Drug?" (British Medical Journal) - Marihuana: the Forbidden Medicine

Bibliography of Articles on Medicinal Marijuana (Drug Policy Alliance)

Marijuana: The Facts - Medical Marijuana (Drug Policy Alliance)

Debate on Decriminalizing Marijuana for Medicinal Purposes (Online NewsHour, November 7, 1996).  Read the transcript or listen by clicking on the link provided there (RealAudio).

Gen. Barry McCaffrey, White House National Drug Policy Director, Statement Opposing Legalization of Marijuana for Medicinal Purposes (PBS Online NewsHour: Drug Abuse -- September 4, 1996)

Transcipts of Online NewsHour Inteviews with Gen. McCaffrey and Dr. Grinspoon (December 30, 1996).  You may also listen to the audio file (ReadAudio).

TOPIC #1: Should Prostitution Be Decriminalized?

Listen to Debate: 

"Legalizing Prostitution" (NPR's "Justice Talking" Series)
Peter McWilliams, two chapters from Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do: "An Overview" (in Part I: "The Basic Premise") and  "Prostitution"  (in Part III: "A Closer Look at the Consensual Crimes") 

Andrea Dworkin, "Prostitution and Male Supremacy"
(Note: Do not confuse the acronym "ACLU" in the URL and website with the acronym of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).  The former stands for "Always Causing Legal Unrest," an organization with goals and views diametrically opposite those of the latter.)

San Francisco Task Force on Prostitution Final Report

Barbara Sullivan, "Rethinking Prostitution"

Prositution Education and Research

Prostitution Prevention, Education & Risk Reduction (PROSPER)

Janice G. Raymond, 10 Reasons for Not Legalizing Prostitution

Coaltion Against Trafficking inWomen,  Comments In Preparation for the United States 2002 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, March 12, 2003

TOPIC #2: Should the Insanity Defense Be Abolished?
Please note that the required study for this topic involves primarily listening.  The total listening/reading time is approximately two hours.
Listen to Debate: 
"Insanity Plea" (NPR's "Justice Talking" Series)

.. Read, View and Listen:

"Jailing the Mentally Ill" (American RadioWorks). Make certain that you:
read/listen to the three parts:
  • Jails: America's Mental Hospitals
  • Not Sick Enough: The Insanity Defense
  • In Jail or In Treatment
  • (At each site, don't forget to click on "Listen" below the title.  Also, please note that the written text closely follows the audio.  The audio, however, is more complete, so it is important that you listen to it.  The written text may be useful for you to go back to review what you have heard.)

    study: Statistics

    view: Photo Essay (access from the "Jailing the Mentally Ill" home page.)

    Legal Information Institute (LII), "Insanity" (excellent summary of the law on the insanity defense, including the McNaughton Rule)

    American Psychiatric Association, The Insanity Defense

    The American RadioWorks website, "Jailing The Mentally Ill" lists additional excellent resources for additonal study.

    TOPIC #1: Should Children Charged with Serious Crimes Be Tried as Adults?

    Listen to Debate:

    "Kids as Criminals: Dropping `Juvenile` from Juvenile Justice" (NPR's "Justice Talking" Series)
    National District Attorneys Association, Resource Manual and Policy Positions on Juvenile Crime Issues (adopted July 14, 2002) [only pages 1-15 are required for this topic; remainder is optional]
    ACLU, "Defusing the Myth: Prosecuting Children as Adults Doesn't Work to Decrease Juvenile Crime"
    Justice Policy Institute, The Florida Experiment: An Analysis of the Practice of Sending Kids to Adult Court
    National Center for Juvenile Justice, "Trying Juveniles as Adults in Criminal Court: An Analysis of State Transfer Provisions"

    MSU's Criminal Justice Resources: Juvenile Justice

    Carl S. Taylor, Ph.D., "Growing Up Behind Bars: Confinement, Youth Development, and Crime"

    National District Attorneys Association - Issues: Juveniles

    FrontLine: 'Little Criminals"

    Juveniles Tried and Sentenced as Adults: Resources (Andrew Vachss Website)

    TOPIC #2: Should peremptory challenges be eliminated in criminal trials as a way of ensuring that race is not used as a criterion in the selection of jurors?


    "Race, Justice and Juries" (NPR's "Justice Talking" Series)


    YES and NO: For the required reading, click here.

    See listing on supplementary page

    TOPIC #1: Have Police Brutality and Excessive Force Become Severe Problems In Need of Special Solutions?

    Listen to Debate: 

    Excessive Force or Law Enforcement? (NPR's "Justice Talking" Series)
    Human Rights Watch Report, Shielded from Justice: Police Brutality and Accountability in the United States.  This is a lengthy report. You are not required to read it all.  Read at least the following sections: OVERVIEW (linked from the man page), SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS, Contributing Factors, Political Considerations and Aggressive Policing, Race as a Factor, Problem" Officers, Code of Silence, Disciplinary Actions, Investigations into Shootings (linked from the TABLE OF CONTENTS).


    National Institute of Justice Report, "Understanding the Use of Force By and Against the Police" 
    Also available in plain text file.
    See "Related Materials" on HRW's "Police Brutality in the U.S." website

    Criminal Justice Resources: Police Use of Force

    National Criminal Justice Reference Service: Law Enforcement - Police Use of Force

    TOPIC #2: Are police interrogation tactics in need of reform, and should all custodial questioning of criminal suspects be videotaped? 

    Listen to Debate: 

    Police Interrogation (NPR's "Justice Talking" Series)
    "Coerced or Nonvoluntary Confessions" (Institute for Psychologial Therapies)


    Walter F. Bugden, Jr. & Tara L. Isaacson (Utah State Bar), "Crimes, Truth and Videotape: Mandatory Recording of Interrogations at the Police Station"


    Evelyn Mahony, "Interrogation, Confessions and Videotape"

    More background reading: Findlaw's Fifth Amendment Annotation regarding "Confessions: Police Interrogation, Due Process, and Self- Incrimination"

    Steven Drizin (Northwestern University), "Should Police Interrogations be Videotaped?"

    Committee on Criminal Justice of the Florida Senate, Interim Project Report (January 2004): "Electronic Recording of Suspect Interrogations"

    Lawrence S. Goldman, "Mandatory Videotaping of Interrogations"

    Thomas P. Sullivan, "Police Experiences with Recording Custodial Interrogations"



    TOPIC #1: Should "Miranda Rights" Be Abolished?


    Miranda Warnings (NPR'S "Justice Talking" Series)
    Do Miranda Rights Create a Loophole for Criminals?
    National Center for Policy Analysis, "Handcuffing the Cops: Miranda's Harmful Effects on Law Enforcement"

    Alexander Nguyen (The American Prospect), "Assault on Miranda"


    Online News Hour (PBS), Coverage of Supreme Court oral arguments in Dickerson v. United States [530 U.S. 428 (2000)]. This is an audio file. You may need to open it in RealPlayer.

    Landmark Supreme Court Cases: Resources on Miranda v. Arizona (1966).

    TOPIC #2: Does the Building of a National DNA Databank in the United States Pose Threats to Such Civil Liberties as the Right to Privacy?

      Listen to Debate:

    "DNA Databanks" (NPR's "Justice Talking" Series)
      View Video:
    Six-minute Clip from "The Case for Innocence"  (PBS' Frontline Special Report) - NOTE FROM JOSE ABOUT THIS CLIP: If you are unable to get this short clip to play, disregard it. There have been some changes on that website, and the Javascript or other matter seems to have been corrupted in some way. If I can find a way to make it work, I will post it here. J.G. 7/20/07]
    Testimony of Barry Steinhardt, Associate Director, ACLU Before the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Crime (March 23, 2000)

    Stephen J. Niezgoda Jr. and Barry Brown Ph.D., Federal Bureau of Investigation, "The FBI Laboratory's COmbined DNA Index System (CODIS) Program"

    "The Case for Innocence" (a Special PBS Frontline Report. See especially the section, "How Far Will the DNA Revolution Go?")

    Allison Puri (Senior Managing Editor, Boston College International and Comparative Law Review, "An International DNA Database: Balancing Hope, Privacy and Scientific Error"

    Michelle Hibbert, "State and Federal DNA Database Laws Examined" (excerpted by PBS Frontline from a Wake Forest Law Review article)

    Statement of Dr. Dwight E. Adams,   Deputy Assistant Director, Forensic Analysis Branch, FBI, Before the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Crime (March 23, 2000)

    Statement of Rep. Anthony D. Weiner andTestimony by Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman Before the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime (March 23, 2000)

    ...... Go back to program home page