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 >

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 Death Penalty: A Just Punishment?

Post | December 4, 2019

On November 15, 2019, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals suspended the execution of Rodney Reed and sent his case back to trial, due to new witness testimony that pointed to his innocence and raised concerns about how evidence was handled during the initial trial.1 Since 1977, at least 166 inmates have been released from death […]


Protest Sign

Should the Federal Government Legalize Marijuana?

Post | March 19, 2019

On Feb. 28, the day he introduced the Marijuana Justice Act, (S.597) Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) tweeted, “The failed War on Drugs has really been a war on people—disproportionately criminalizing poor people, people of color & people with mental illness. I’m reintroducing the #MarijuanaJustice Act to begin reversing our failed federal drug policies.” The views expressed by Sen. Booker […]


Criminal Justice Reform

Criminal Justice Reform: The First Step Act

Post | December 31, 2018

On December 21st, President Trump signed the FIRST STEP Act of 2018 into law. In addition to being a notable act of bipartisanship, the act will have far reaching implications for the nation’s criminal justice system and will have meaningful impacts on the lives of incarcerated people. The bill, whose title is an acronym for […]


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