In a project-based practicum course, students participate in a weekly seminar and work on a project under the supervision of their professors. This practicum will explore the impact of technology on the criminal justice system, and will teach students how to design, build and understand technologies that affect criminal justice processes and policy. Students will participate in a two hour/week seminar and carry out 10 hours/week of project work under the direction of the course professors.
SEMINAR: Seminars will review the design, deployment, and impact of technologies throughout the criminal justice system, from law enforcement surveillance and monitoring tools to algorithmic risk assessments used in bail decisions and sentencing. Students will be asked to view these tools through two critical lenses: how well these tools further their stated policy aims, and how technology changes power relationships between government and citizens. Throughout the semester, students will also hear from guest speakers that are using technology to tackle police misconduct, expungement, and other criminal justice policy issues. To complement this policy discussion, students will learn techniques to design, deploy, and analyze criminal justice-focused technology. These exercises will teach analytical approaches to developing and understanding technology systems, including: activity-centered design, system mapping, specification building, tool selection, and prototyping. (No computer science or coding knowledge is necessary to take this course.) The semester will conclude with a pitch day, where students will present a policy or procedural problem they have identified in the criminal justice system that could be addressed through technological tools, and present their proposed design for a solution.
PROJECT WORK: Students will work with clients and the practicum instructors to identify problems in the criminal justice system that could be improved through the use of technological tools, then design such tools working in small teams. Potential practicum projects could include digitizing Miranda warnings, using text messages to lower failure to appear rates in juvenile court, or determining how to use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to help people whose criminal records have been expunged but whose record information is still available online.