|The Law Behind Contemporary Issues
Greg Woods, J.D.
In The Law Behind Contemporary Issues, students will engage in robust exploration of those factors and trends relating to high profile current domestic and transnational events impacting the justice system of the United States of America from a legal perspective.
Each week, we will look at the legal realities behind the outlined topics, and have discussions about what we've learned.
Week 1 - Introductions/Course overview; Democracy In Action: Is all government truly local? Who shall be elected Mayor of the City and County of San Francisco on June 5, 2018? What law governs and under what circumstances? Legalization of Cannabis: Distinguishing Federal and State from local jurisdictions? Should Federal immigration and sanctuary city policy conform with that of California? Will erecting a southwestern border wall improve the quality of life for people in the Bay Area? Class Discussion.
Week 2 - Deviants Among Us: Why have violent crime rates spiked in Bay Area cities recently? Is the basic mission for police to prevent crime and disorder? How does personal and property crime impact the following people: Victims, Aggressors, Witnesses and Law Enforcement/First Responders? Should the test of police efficiency be the absence of crime and disorder or visible evidence of police action in dealing with it? On officer involved shootings: How might the use of excessive force violate civil rights? Class Discussion.
Week 3 - Deplorable Identity Politics: Why does slavery persist in the twenty-first century? Who benefits from flesh peddling and human trafficking in contemporary California? Why was the #MeToo movement named Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2017? Courting Justice: Who judges the judges? What can Brock Turner teach us in regard to sex crimes, the cost of consent, California Penal Code Section 290 and preventing sexual assault in campus communities? Is gender inequality still a problem in the latter half of the second decade of the twenty-first century? If so, in what ways should this problem be addressed?Class Discussion.
Week 4 - Cultivating Corrective Measures: Injustice anywhere a threat to justice everywhere? Objectives of Criminal Punishment: Retribution, Incapacitation, Deterrence and Rehabilitation? What is the worse problem, recidivism or the lack of rehabilitation?Eliminating Private Vengeance: Self-help through public disclosure via social media? Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (aka the “Three Strikes” sentence enhancement law) or Proposition 47 (aka the prison realignment policy): Which solution is in the best interest of Californians? Is capital punishment a sustainable solution? Class Discussion.
Week 5 - Our Rugged ilIndividualism: Life, Liberty & Property by any means necessary? Guns, canines and crime prevention through environmental design? License plate readers, surveillance drones? Should police have used a ground robot to kill a man who had killed five police officers in a mass shooting in Dallas, Texas, in July of 2016? Could potential injury by mass shooting, like that which occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 1, 2017, have been prevented by such technology? Class Discussion.
Week 6 - E Pluribus Unum: Against all enemies, foreign and domestic? If you want peace, work for justice? Is the Freedom of Speech under attack in the United States? Should the rise of political extremism be reason to regulate time, place and manner of political speech in the United States? In what ways might law help to resolve conflict, prevent injury and improve quality of life? Class Discussion
Students will increase awareness and develop critical thinking skills through active engagement in robust exploration of those factors and trends relating to high profile current domestic and transnational events impacting the justice system of the United States of America from a legal perspective. Each class session will incorporate activities calculated to provide platform for student expression and meritorious debate of probative value in a polite and respectful manner.
Greg Woods, J.D. is a Lecturer with the Department of Justice Studies at San Jose State University and has taught with the Departments of Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies at Sonoma State University and Criminal Justice Studies at San Francisco State University. He received his Doctor of Jurisprudence from San Francisco Law School.