The Corrections System
What are some reasons for and against parole? Write a short paragraph explaining why you either support or oppose parole.
Visit a courthouse to watch some criminal trials. What are the reasons the judge gave for imposing a sentence? Do you think the sentence fits the offence? Look at the court trial list. What kinds of offences are most common? The least common?
Monitor the newspaper for two weeks. Clip out articles that cover sentencing by the court. List the offences and the sentences imposed. Are any of the sentences surprising to you? Do you strongly disagree or agree with any of them? Why?
- Find out the rate of imprisonment (number of prisoners per capita) for Canada, England, Scandinavia, and the US. Is Canada’s rate higher or lower than the others are? Suggest some reasons why the rates might be different.
Broken House: Life in a Kid’s Prison
Imagine you are the judge who has to sentence Damon for killing Joker. What sentence would you impose? Consider the following factors:
What objectives of sentencing are most important in this case? Why? For example, is it important to do any of the following:
- Discourage Damon and other young people from committing similar crimes in the future (“deterrence”)?
- Express disapproval of Damon’s conduct to other young people in the jail and to society generally (“denunciation”)?
- Rehabilitate Damon and help him to integrate back into society?
- Protect the public?
- Heal the harm done to the community and the victim?
- Would you send him to jail for killing Joker? If so, for how long? How will your decision help achieve the objectives you thought were most important?
- Would you require Damon to do anything else in addition to, or instead of, going to jail in order to fulfil the objectives you thought were most important? What would you require him to do?
Research the meaning of the term “restorative justice.” Discuss some ways in which restorative justice is used in the justice system (e.g. community justice conferences). Imagine if a restorative justice approach had been used on Damon for assaulting the kid on the basketball court. Do you think the sentence would have been different? How? Do you think it would have had a different effect on Damon, his victim, and his community than the jail sentence?
Choosing Not to Use Violence
Think of the situation Damon found himself in on the basketball court when the other kid was insulting him. Make a list of ten things he could have done that wouldn’t have involved violence.