This is a class about the American criminal justice system—from policing to prisons, from arrest to reentry. In many ways, the operation of the modern criminal justice system is taken for granted, which frequently allows it to escape close scrutiny. But we will examine it in great detail, with a focus on how it came about, how it sustains itself, its many roles in society (only some of which involve crime and justice), and how and why it may be changing. In Fall 2022, the class will take a particular look at policing and examine the calls for police reform and abolition. NB: This class is designed to challenge your settled assumptions and dearly held myths about what is right and wrong with the system. Those who have made up their mind about criminal justice in America should not take the course. This class was formerly GOVT 3141, PRISONS, taught by Prof. Margulies. It has been renamed and renumbered as GOVT 3121 to distinguish it from the distance learning course taught by Prof. Katzenstein.