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CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Background and Context

These resources will help students develop a thorough understanding of Criminal Justice and make connections between historical events, current conversations, and current policy proposals surrounding the issue. This section includes all of the context and content previously included in Close Up’s public policy chapters.  

 

Criminal Justice in Historical Context

How has Criminal Justice changed throughout our history? Learn More >

Criminal Justice in Current Context

What is current Criminal Justice policy? Learn More >

Criminal Justice: Deliberating Priorities

Available for Middle & High School

How, if at all, should the United States reform its criminal justice system? Learn More >

Current Issue Debates

Current Issue Debates are framed by a central question and followed by historical context, an overview of both sides of the topic, and discussion questions to facilitate deliberation in the classroom.

 

Police Reform Deliberation

Available for Middle & High School

What policies, if any, are needed to reform police practices? Learn More >

The Death Penalty

Available for Middle & High School

What policies, if any, are needed to reform police practices? Learn More >

Police Accountability

Available for Middle & High School

Should the federal government pass legislation to hold law enforcement agencies more accountable? Learn More >

Defunding the Police

Available for Middle & High School

Should governments transfer some or all of police department funding to other public services? Learn More >

Drug Decriminalization

Should state governments pass legislation to decriminalize the use of all drugs? Learn More >

Marijuana Restrictions

Available for Middle & High School

Should the federal government ease restrictions on marijuana? Learn More >

Videos from Policy Makers

Brought to you by ASP HOMEROOM, through a collaboration between Close Up Foundation and A Starting Point, these supplemental videos are an introduction to policy areas that provide an opportunity for students to hear different perspectives directly from lawmakers.

 

The War on Drugs

Congressmen Burgess Owens (R-UT) & Bobby Scott (D-VA)
February 24, 2021

Sentencing Reform

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) & former Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA)
February 26, 2021

Police Reform

Representatives Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) & Pete Stauber (R-MN)
February 15, 2021

Lesson Plans

These ready-to-use lesson plans can be utilized in conjunction with any of our resources to enhance the quality of student discourse in the classroom. Our supplemental Civic Readiness Guide provides a recommended lesson plan sequence for using our Current Issues resources.

 

Additional & Archived Resources on Criminal Justice

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The 13th Amendment, Crime Legislation, and America’s High Incarceration Rate

Post | May 8, 2024

Today, 25 percent of the world’s documented prison population is incarcerated in the United States. Despite America being the land of the free, there are more recorded prisoners here than in any other country: 2,068,800. So, how did the United States get here? Over the last 40 years, numerous factors have contributed to the dramatic […]


U.S. Foreign Policy Decisions in the Israel-Hamas Conflict: Part 2

Post | November 29, 2023

As part of our ongoing series centered on the Israel-Hamas conflict, this post will review the U.S. foreign policy decisions. Part 1 of the series focused on the effects of the conflict within U.S. borders and the rise of antisemitism and Islamophobia. To complete the series, Part 3 in the coming week will review how […]


Hamas

The Israel-Hamas War

Post | October 18, 2023

The Hamas Attack Launches On the morning of October 7, 2023, the militant Palestinian nationalist group Hamas unleashed an unprecedented terrorist attack against Israel. Over 5,000 rockets launched from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip (one of two semi-autonomous regions of Israel designated for Palestinian residents). These rocket attacks were immediately followed by thousands of Hamas fighters […]


Reversing the “School-to-Prison Pipeline”? Part 3: Examining the Impact of Prison Education

Post | July 1, 2023

In Part 1 of this series, we saw that more severe approaches to school discipline—including “zero-tolerance” policies—have been statistically linked to higher rates of incarceration, especially among Black boys. This is seen as a key contributor to mass incarceration, which Part 2 showed has grown substantially since the final decades of the 20th century. In […]


Reversing the “School-to-Prison Pipeline”? Part 2: The Debate Over Mass Incarceration

Post | June 22, 2023

Should We Decarcerate? Since the start of the War on Drugs, the United States has adopted and enforced policies that have led to mass incarceration, with nearly half of all incarcerations due to drug crimes.1 According to the Prison Policy Initiative, the rate of incarceration in the United States outpaces every other nation on earth, […]


Reversing the “School-to-Prison Pipeline”? Part 1: Defining the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Post | June 14, 2023

What Do People Mean When They Talk About the School-to-Prison Pipeline? For decades, many researchers who study the public education system have discussed the impact of the “school-to-prison pipeline”: escalating punishments, primarily in “high-poverty, high-minority schools,” intended to deter unwanted student behaviors leading to missed class time, a lost sense of belonging within the school, […]


Revisiting Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” Speech

Post | March 8, 2023

On February 18, the Carter Center released a statement saying that former President Jimmy Carter had opted to spend “his remaining time at home” following a number of hospital stays and declining health.1 News of the 98-year-old former president’s condition has brought an outpouring of support and renewed attention to his life and legacy as […]


Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun

What Do “Defund the Police” and “Police Abolition” Mean? And What Do They Not Mean?

Post | February 22, 2023

Following the 2020 murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, a call by activists to “defund the police” achieved national attention. Supporters of defunding the police have argued that—at least some of—the billions of dollars spent on policing each year could be better used by investing in educational, recreational, and mental health […]


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