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PRLS 2505: Latinxs in the Criminal Justice Complex (Ortíz-Minaya): Home

Professor Reynaldo Ortíz-Minaya's OER

“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”  -- Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1862.

Course Description

Overcrowded prison room, many men on bunk beds.

Latinxs in the Criminal Justice Complex

This is an inter and trans-disciplinary course, which has two main objectives. The first is to serve as an introduction into the current realities and challenges of the LatinX community within the criminal justice complex in the United States.  The course seeks to critically examine the  misconceptions and realities of the LatinX community within the larger discussion of mass incarceration and prison reform in the United States. Close attention will also be paid to the use of criminalization as a form of social control and the proliferation of regulations, ordinances, and legislative acts that give legal form to such methods of discipline and punishment. The course will address dynamics and phenomena of racial profiling; juvenile justice; drug criminalization; and the intersection of immigration law with criminal law. In concluding, the course will shift to understanding and connecting the prison-industrial complex to what the future holds for marginalized communities within the current movement and crisis of global capital.

The course also seeks to improve your skills in critical reading, writing, and thinking.  Paper assignments and essay exams will provide opportunities to develop your own interpretations systematically and polish your writing skills.

While there undoubtedly exists an infinite research agenda when it comes to the study mass incarceration and the ongoing challenges of the LatinX community within the criminal justice system of the United States, it is only possible [in 15 weeks] to cover a limited surface/amount of such complicated history and realities of these topics. However, I have provided a list of suggested/recommended readings for additional literature to be consulted.


Professor Reynaldo Ortiz-Minaya

  • Professor: Reynaldo Ortiz-Minaya, Ph.D.
  • Email:
  • Phone: 718-951-5561 Ext. 3605
  • Office: 1208B Boylan Hall
  • Class Meets: Tuesdays & Thursdays 2.15-3.30 PM
  • Class Location: Boylan Hall 3408.
  • Office Hours: Tuesdays 1-2 PM (or by appointment).

3 short videos with the professor

  1. Reynaldo Ortiz-Minaya (1)
    Topic:Specializing in Cuban history and his time in Russia, and what led him to studying world systems theory.
  2. Reynaldo Ortiz-Minaya (2)
    Topic: Studying mass incarceration in Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan.
  3. Reynaldo Ortiz-Minaya (3)
    Topic: On being a middle school teacher in South Central Los Angeles and his most exhilarating teaching experience

Course Objectives

  • Critically reflect on the criminal justice system’s role in racializing human “subjects”
  • Understand the historical underpinnings of mass incarceration in the United States
  • Better navigate the scholarly literature on mass incarceration, migrant detention, and racially disparate criminal justice policies and practices
  • Further develop critical thinking skills and the ability to speak and write clearly and analytically
  • Connect a series of social movements (e.g. Black Lives Matter) to academic literature on race and criminal justice
  • Situate select Latino/a/x scholarship within a historical framework of U.S. criminal justice and contemporary carceral studies
  • Critically reflect on the systems of state governance, institutions, organizations, commercial enterprises, and non-profits built around and upon the project of mass imprisonment
  • Anchor criminal justice policy in electoral politics and the racial politics of crime control
  • Understand the special role of three types of institutions: Police, Corrections, and Courts – and their impact on communities of color