This zip file contains all of the necessary powerpoints, video links, webquests, activities, protocols, procedures, discussion questions, warmups, exit tickets, and resources necessary to teach an engaging problem-based learning course titled “Injustices in our Criminal Justice System”. The course introduces students to the crisis of mass incarceration in the United States and our problem of incarcerating versus rehabilitating. It connects the idea of our mass incarceration being the “New Jim Crow”, focusing on the injustices of our criminal justice system by race, gender and socioeconomic status. A more detailed description of the course is listed later on:
The course is designed to last a few weeks/a month long or a condensed 2-3 all day intensive. It would be great for high school food systems and environmentally focused course. It could be modified for the middle school level as well. I designed the course for a "Scholar Weekend" course through Duke University for 8-11th graders. It contains 25-35 hours of resources, but it can easily be condensed and shortened, and teachers can select activities that they feel are most appropriate for their groups. It would also be great for a May-term or J-term elective intensive, or for an extension end-of-year course, or for a summer intensive course. It might also work in well as a unit for a High School Social Studies course. The course includes many interactive, engaging, student-centered activities. Students will engage in self-directed research, gallery walk reflections, discussions, chalk talk dialogues with post-it note responses, speed-dating, conversation parties, a project, and more!
Investigating Justice and Injustice in the Criminal “Justice” System
What happens inside prison? What happens inside of solitary confinement? What are the socio-psychological impacts of prison and solitary confinement? Do prisons actually help criminals make positive transformations? Does the United States do a good job in helping released prisoners re-enter society? Do expenditures on our prison system have unseen impacts on other sectors of society, like education and healthcare? In this course, students will critically investigate mass incarceration in the United States and the “injustices” of our current Criminal Justice System. Students will analyze incarceration statistics by race, gender, socioeconomic status, and those afflicted by mental illness and/or drug and alcohol addictions. They will evaluate things like police stops and pullovers, the school-to-prison pipeline, and expenditures on incarceration versus education state-by-state. The course will introduce the idea of mass incarceration being “The New Jim Crow”, legalizing racism the disenfranchisement. Students will examine the inner workings and finances of United States prison systems and evaluate the effectiveness of prisons as productive systems”. Students will put themselves in the shoes of falsely incarcerated and imprisoned individuals, and in the shoes of unarmed black males who have lost their lives to police brutality. After these harsh investigations, students will move on to evaluate the design and rehabilitation aspects of our current prison systems. They research various programs available to prisoners, prisoner release programs, and the controversial topic of prisoners doing required community service without pay while they serve. The will explore what’s out there, analyze pros and cons, and brainstorm what should be the given rights for prisoners. Students will analyze prisoner recidivism rates and apply their knowledge from our current prison systems to project why recidivism is such a major issue, as well as how we could reduce recidivism. The course will culminate in a challenge for students to design an effective prison system that rehabilitates prisoners and reduces recidivism rates. They will incorporate effective programs within prisons and prisoner release programs to better prepare prisoners for reentry into society. They will also include larger policies and laws to improve our criminal justice system where they see most necessary, be it prisoner rights, education in prisons, art therapy, drug rehabilitation, mental illness assistance, etc. Students will present their designs to each other through powerpoint/google slides, prezi, or a medium of their suggestion. Students will evaluate every group (eval. guides are included).
Students are sure to come out of this course knowledgeable, enraged, and passionate to create positive change in our Criminal Justice System and Prison System!