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

Professor Reynaldo Ortíz-Minaya's OER


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

Print Copy Syllabus

Download and print an accessible WORD version of the syllabus for PRLS 2505 Fall 2019

Academic Calander

Aug 26 Monday Last day to file e-Permit request
Aug 27 Tuesday Start of Fall Term - Classes begin
Aug 31 - Sept 1 Saturday-Sunday No Classes Scheduled - Campus Open
Sept 1 Sunday Official Summer 2019 Degree Conferral Date
Sept 2 Monday College Closed
Sept 2 Monday Last day to add course
Sept 2 Monday Last day to drop for 75% tuition refund
Sept 5 Thursday Classes follow Monday Schedule
Sept 5 Thursday Last day to submit a Pass/Fail elective application online for Fall 2019
Sept 9 Monday Last day to drop for 50% tuition refund
Sept 12 Thursday Last day for students to submit requests for change, deletion of, or declaration of a major/minor/concentration to be effective for Fall 2019
Sept 15 Sunday Last day for departments to approve requests for change, deletion of, or declaration of a major/minor/concentration to be effective for Fall 2019
Sept 15 Sunday Last day to file for Fall 2019/December 31, 2019 graduation
Sept 16 Monday Last day to drop for 25% tuition refund
Sept 16 Monday All major/minor requests submitted for Fall 2019 must be updated in CUNYFirst by this date to be effective for Fall Census date
Sept 17 Tuesday Verification of Enrollment rosters available to faculty
Sept 17 Tuesday Grade of W is assigned to students who officially withdraw from a course
Sept 23 Monday Verification of Enrollment Rosters Due from faculty
Sept 24 Tuesday WN Grades assigned
Sept 26 Thursday WA Grades Assigned - Immunization non-compliance
Sept 27 Friday Deadline to Apply for Language and Comprehensive Exams
Sept 27 Friday Deadline to Submit Thesis Title through Thesis Submission Online
Sept 30-Oct 1 Monday-Tuesday No classes scheduled
Oct 8-9 Tuesday-Wednesday No classes scheduled
Oct 14 Monday College Closed
Oct 16 Wednesday Classes follow Monday schedule
Nov 5 Tuesday Last day to withdraw from a course with a grade of W
Nov 6 Wednesday Declaration of Major queue reopens; Majors/minors/concentrations declared starting this date will be effective for Spring 2020
Nov 11 Monday Last day for Undergraduate students to complete and submit any incomplete work to resolve Spring 2019/Summer 2019 INC grades.
Nov 25 Monday Last day for Faculty members to change INC grades (from Spring 2019 and Summer 2019) to letter grades for Undergraduate students resulting from submitted assignments completed by the November 11th deadline.
Nov 28-29 Thursday-Friday College Closed
Nov 30 Saturday No Classes Scheduled - Campus Open
Dec 1 Sunday No Classes Scheduled - Campus Open
Dec 2 Monday Last day for Graduate students to complete and submit any incomplete work to resolve Spring 2019/Summer 2019 INC grades.
Dec 4 Wednesday Graduate Language Exams
Dec 6 Friday Deadline to Upload Thesis through Thesis Submission Online
Dec 12 Thursday Deadline to File for Maintenance of Matriculation
Dec 13 Friday Reading Day/Final Examination
Dec 14-20 Sunday-Friday Final Examinations
Dec 16 Monday Last day for Faculty members to change INC grades (from Spring 2019 and Summer 2019) to letter grades for Graduate students resulting from submitted assignments completed by the December 2nd deadline.
Dec 20 Friday End of Fall Term
Dec 20 Friday Residency Deadline
Dec 24-25 Tuesday-Wednesday College Closed
Dec 27 Friday Final Grade Submission Deadline
Dec 31 Tuesday Fall 2019 Degree Conferral Date

Course Description

Latinxs in the Criminal Justice Complex

Official Bulletin Description: LatinXs within the penal system; mass incarceration and reform; racial profiling; juvenile justice; drug criminalization; legal representation; immigration policy; human and civil rights struggles and organized movements; political activism and repression, including Puerto Rican nationalists; "gang" formation; globalization and labor formation after 1970's shift in global capital; school-to-prison pipeline; urban displacement.   3 hours; 3 credits.


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.

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


Activity Percentage
Attendance/Class Participation 20%
Midterm Exam 20%
Film Critiques 20%
Final Research Paper Annotated Bibliography 10%
Final Research Paper 30%


Attendance/Class Participation (20% of Final Grade)


  • Participation grades are based on qualitative assessment of YOUR contribution to class discussions.
  • You are expected to come to class having already read assigned course materials for that week and demonstrate familiarity with assigned readings and critical thinking ability. 
  • You will also have several opportunities to participate in other ways, such as through Blackboard.
  • I also reserve the right to give any number of pop quizzes throughout the semester. These will be factored into your participation grade. You should have nothing to fear if you come to class prepared on a regular basis.

Class Participation

Class Participation

Please come to class prepared to participate in informed discussion of assigned readings and to engage actively in the in-class activities designed to help you apply what we are learning to a research project of interest to you. You will also be assigned to an on-call group which will be responsible for re-calling and discussing a particular reading.  The reading for which your group is responsible will be listed on the syllabus and the day that reading is covered will be posted on blackboard.  On those days, please come prepared for me to “call on” you to discuss the reading. 

Expectations Regarding Work Outside the Classroom

This course is a 3-credit course, which means that in addition to the scheduled meeting times, students are expected to do at least 9 hours of course-related work outside of class each week during the semester. This includes time spent completing assigned readings and studying related tasks.

General Note

If at any time during the course, you feel overwhelmed or you feel like you do not understand what we are doing in class, please come and see me as soon as possible.  If you are unhappy with your grades, I would be happy to talk with you about what you need to do to improve your grade.  However, my office hours are not a time for you to try to negotiate grades that have already been assigned.  This is unfair to other students.  If an illness prevents you from attending class, I encourage you to obtain notes from another student in the class.  I also encourage you to contact me as soon as you can to learn of any updates in the course.

Course Requirements in Detail

Mid-Term Take Home Exam (20% of Final Grade):  

You will have to choose 1 out of 3 essay questions for you to answer in essay format. [Your response is to be 3-4 pages double spaced.]

  • Handed out:         October 3, 2019
  • Due:                     October 10, 2019

Film Response Papers (20% of Final Grade): 

  • We will have at least 5 documentary/film screenings in which we will review selections.
  • You are to write a response paper [2-3 pages] to each of the films shown in a manner that illustrates critical engagement of the material/literature from class discussions, assigned readings, and content of the films.
  • This is not a summary of the films, but rather a serious and scholarly analysis of the film. 

Final Paper (40% of Final Grade):

  • You will be responsible to write a 7-10-page analytical paper engaging the material discussed in the course.
  • You must show in-depth knowledge of the literature assigned in the class.
  • A full description of the paper and its requirements will be addressed in class.
  • As such, plan accordingly.
  • ALL students will present to the class in 3-5 minutes a synopsis of their final paper topic during Week 9 of the course and their final research findings during Week 15.

Due Dates:

  • Annotated Bibliography due October 17, 2019.
  • Final Research Paper due December 5, 2019.

Both assignments due in hardcopy and on Blackboard via Turn It In.



University policy on academic integrity:

  • The faculty and administration of Brooklyn College support an environment free from cheating and plagiarism.
  • Each student is responsible for being aware of what constitutes cheating and plagiarism and for avoiding both.
  • View complete text of CUNY Academic Integrity Policy and Brooklyn College procedure for policy implementation.
  • If a faculty member suspects a violation of academic integrity and, upon investigation, confirms that violation, or if the student admits the violation, the faculty member must report the violation.
  • Please read the section entitled “Academic Regulations and Procedures” in the Brooklyn College Undergraduate Bulletin or Graduate Bulletin for a complete listing of academic regulations of the College.


  • In order to receive disability-related academic accommodations students must first be registered with the Center for Student Disability Services.
  • Students who have a documented disability or suspect they may have a disability are invited to set up an appointment with the Director of the Center for Student Disability Services, Ms. Valerie Stewart-Lovell at 718-951-5538.
  • If you have already registered with the Center for Student Disability Services, please provide your professor with the course accommodation form and discuss your specific accommodation with him/her.

Student bereavement policy:

  1. Students who experience the death of a loved one must contact the Division of Student Affairs, 2113 Boylan Hall, if they wish to implement either the Standard Bereavement Procedure or the Leave of Absence Bereavement Procedure. The Division of Student Affairs has the right to request a document that verifies the death (e.g., a funeral program or death notice).
  2. Typically, this death involves that of a family member, in parallel to the bereavement policy for faculty and staff. However, it is up to the discretion of the Division of Student Affairs to determine if a death outside of the immediate family warrants implementation of the student bereavement policy.
  3. As an option, and in consultation with the Division of Student Affairs, students may take the Leave of Absence Bereavement after the Standard Bereavement.
  4. Reference to the Student Bereavement Policies will be noted on course syllabi.
  5. Students requesting a religious accommodation should contact the Division of Student Affairs as well. The chief student affairs officer, or a designee, and the student will engage in an interactive process with the goal of finding an acceptable accommodation.

Standard Bereavement Procedure:

  • Upon approval from the Division of Student Affairs, the student is allowed one week, commencing from the day of notification to the Division of Student Affairs, of excused absence.
  • Should the student feel that he/she needs additional days, these should be discussed with individual course instructors and/or the Division of Student Affairs.
  • The Division of Student Affairs will contact the student’s faculty and academic staff of the student’s courses.
  • Faculty and academic staff will be advised that extensions must be granted to the student for the period of one week of excused absence.
  • Further extensions may be negotiated with the student when he or she returns to campus.
  • Students are encouraged to discuss options with their instructors.

Leave of Absence Bereavement Procedure:

  • Students may be allowed to withdraw from the semester in which the death occurs.
  • The Bereavement Leave of Absence is for one semester only.
  • Students who have opted to take the Bereavement Leave of Absence and have already attended classes for the semester of the leave will be allowed to re-enter the following semester without having to reapply to the college.
  • Students who wish to take the leave of absence prior to the beginning of the semester will be required to reapply for the following semester.
  • Students who are in good academic standing will be given the opportunity to successfully complete the credits for the semester in which they return.
  • Students will consult with the Division of Student Affairs, on a case-by-case basis, as to whether they should withdraw from their courses during this leave of absence or to request incompletes from the faculty member.
  • Given that there may be a potential impact on financial aid, students who receive financial aid and who take the Bereavement Leave of Absence, upon arrangement with the Division of Student Affairs, will meet with a financial aid adviser prior to taking this option.

Nonattendance because of religious beliefs:

  • The New York State Education Law provides that no student shall be expelled or refused admission to an institution of higher education because he or she is unable to attend classes or participate in examinations or study or work requirements on any particular day or days because of religious beliefs.
  • Students who are unable to attend classes on a particular day or days because of religious beliefs will be excused from any examination or study or work requirements.
  • Faculty must make good-faith efforts to provide students absent from class because of religious beliefs equivalent opportunities to make up the work missed; no additional fees may be charged for this consideration.
  • If classes, examinations, or study or work requirements occur on Friday after 4 p.m. or on Saturday, similar or makeup classes, examinations, or study or work requirements will be made available on other days, where possible and practical.
  • The faculty and the administration will not allow any adverse or prejudicial effects to accrue to students availing themselves of this regulation.
  • If students have complaints about the application of this policy, they are entitled to bring action or a proceeding for enforcement of their rights in the Supreme Court of Kings County