Doing Justice in Philadelphia and Beyond, 1925 – 2025: Déjà vu all over again

CLICK HERE for Spring 2007 Course


How is justice achieved? This interdisciplinary, introductory course examines how justice agencies work – or don’t. Emphasizes understanding the pressures operating on justice agencies and how those may conflict with or alter broader goals. Exposure to sources in criminal justice, film, geography/urban studies, history, political science, and sociology.

Get taught by some of the best faculty in the College of Liberal Arts. In this course you will get some of the best teachers in CLA from History, Political Science, Criminal Justice, and Geography and Urban Studies.
Learn about Philadelphia. You will visit areas that had high and low delinquency rates in the 1920s, read newspaper articles about famous bootleggers in the 1920s and what was done to stop them - yes - they did call in the Marines!

Become skilled in interpreting basic social science data like Census tables and maps, and crime maps

Ponder some of the most important questions about U.S. society: Why have prison rates skyrocketed, and can anything be done about it? Have citizens really lost confidence in government agencies whose purpose is to deliver justice? How do changes in who lives where drive the pressures on justice agencies? Where did the rise in the "law and order" agenda come from?

And maybe most important of all: where is all this going?

IMAGES, top to bottom, going left to right in each row: TOP ROW: Philadelphia skyline. Bruce Lancaster in Brute Force (1947) one of the first films to look realistically at violence and gangs inside prisons, and how it was linked to the pressures on the prison system, and the makeup of the guards and the inmates.  SECOND ROW: speedboat purchased by Philadelphia Police Department in 1920s to chase bootleggers on the Delaware River. Poster from  Dead End (1937) which took a hard look at the connection between poverty, pre-teen violence, and economic inequality. THIRD ROW. In 1985 the Philadelphia Police Department, in a standoff with a radical movement, MOVE, dropped a bomb on a house on Osage Avenue and the neighborhood burned. FBI map of crime hot spots in North Philadelphia in the late 1990s. FOURTH ROW. Futuristic skyline. Philadelphia street corner in the 1930s. BOTTOM ROW: empty jury box. Distribution of percent African-American population in Philadelphia census tracts in 1990. Smedley Butler, a high ranking and much decorated officer in the  U.S. Marine Corps, brought in as Director of Public Safety in 1924 to enforce Prohibition in Philadelphia.

For more details contact Ralph Taylor: