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Detention and Human Rights in the United States

This course will address the human rights of incarcerated people, from the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Danbury, Connecticut, to Bagram Prison in Afghanistan.  Each student will have the opportunity to work as part of a large team on one complex representation on an issue such as pursuing accountability for torture, ending Supermax, or ensuring minimum rights for U.S. prisoners.  Clinic students will make at least one trip during the semester to FCI Danbury to do outreach, education and intake work and possibly to undertake direct representation on a small matter.  The diverse docket will provide a proving ground for clinic participants to consider comparative law and methods for social change.  The clinic seminar will address the law regarding incarceration from international, domestic and comparative perspectives.  Participants will learn the basics of a complex, federal litigation practice but will also consider the comparative advantages of other fora, such as state courts and international tribunals; examine human rights law and tools, especially non-litigation strategies; and explore theories of social change through the interplay between recent advocacy on behalf of “war on terror” detainees and the prisoners’ rights movement more broadly.  The clinic is supervised by Hope Metcalf and James Silk.