TimeDaysLocationInstructorGERCreditOPUS Class NumberSyllabus (Tentative)
Tarbutton Hall 105
Elizabeth Griffiths. 41720 TBA.

January 12, 2011- April 25, 2011

Prerequisites: An introductory course in criminology or criminal justice is recommended before this course is taken.

Semester Details:

The principle “better ten guilty go free than even one innocent be wrongly convicted” is repeatedly invoked by the U.S. Supreme Court as the philosophical foundation of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  Yet history shows errors of justice that have resulted in punishment of the innocent.  This course examines miscarriages of criminal justice, broadly defined.  Throughout the semester, we examine policies and practices of the American criminal justice system (e.g., police procedure, prosecution, jury selection, scientific evidence, appellate court procedures, etc.) that contribute to unintended consequences like the wrongful apprehension, prosecution, conviction, incarceration, and even execution of the innocent.  Moreover, we explore the collateral consequences of punishing “false positives,” including implications for undermining the legitimacy of the criminal justice system and allowing impunity for culpable offenders who remain at-large.

Required Textbooks, Articles, and Resources

  1. Forst, Brian. 2004. Errors of Justice: Nature, Sources, and Remedies .
    ISBN: 9780521528825.
  2. Johnson, Calvin C., Jr., & Hampikian, Greg. 2003. Exit to Freedom: The Only Firsthand Account of Wrongful Conviction Overturned by DNA Evidence.
    ISBN: 9780820327846.
  3. Vollen, Lola, & Eggers, Dave. 2005. Surviving Justice: America┬┐s Wrongfully Convicted and Incarcerated.
    ISBN: 9781932416237.
  4. Westervelt, Saundra D, & Humphrey, John A. 2001. Wrongly Convicted: Perspectives on Failed Justice.
    ISBN: 9780813529523.


Assignment/ExamDetails% of Total Grade
short written assignments(tentative)
term paper(tentative)
group project/in-class presentation(tentative)
active participation in discussion(tentative)

The schedule of courses on O.P.U.S. is the official listing of courses, including days and times they meet and the General Education Requirements they satisfy. Students should use course descriptions as general guidelines. Course requirements, grading details, book lists, and syllabi are subject to change.