HL Case Studies: Identity

What is Mass Incarceration?

  • What is mass incarceration? 

  • How is it unique to the US? 

  • Who is most affected?

We will explore these questions through a discussion, reading and video.

Three Strikes and You're Out

  • What are some of the main drivers of mass incarceration? 

  • What are mandatory minimums and three strikes laws?

  • What role do prosecutors play in driving mass incarceration? 

We will explore these questions through a discussion, reading and some videos.

Racial Disparities in the US Criminal Justice System

  • Why do people argue that the US operate two criminal justice systems: one for the wealthy and one for the poor and people of color? 

  • What are some different explanations for racial disparities within the US criminal justice system? 

Through some videos, readings and class discussions, we will begin to explore these questions.

The War on Drugs

  • What is the war on drugs?

  • How is the war on drugs seen as a driver of mass incarceration?

  • How has the war on drugs contributed to the criminalization of communities of color in the US?

  • How have views about drug use changed in response to the opioid crisis? 

We will explore these questions through a discussion, reading and video.

Broken Windows Policing in the US

  • How do broken windows policing and stop and frisk impact on young people and communities of color in the US?

  • What aspects of identity make some people more vulnerable to state/police violence?

 

We will look at these questions through some short readings, videos and a four corners discussion. 

Ferguson, Missouri

Two important US government reports released in 2015, both prompted by the events in Ferguson, Missouri in August 2014, begin to tackle the deeply rooted problem of racial discrimination in the US criminal justice system.

 

One of them, the summary findings of a six-month-old Department of Justice investigation into the practices of the Ferguson Police Department, charges that Ferguson police have for years “routinely violated the constitutional rights of the city’s black residents,” via the use of excessive force and unwarranted traffic stops.

In this lesson, we will use Ferguson as a case study for examining police brutality and discriminatory policing in the US and apply Galtung's Triangle of Violence to it.

The Prison Label

  • What are some of the challenges or collateral consequences faced by ex-offenders and convicted drug felons when they attempt to reintegrate into society after they are released from prison?

  • What is the “prison label” is and how does it harms individuals and communities? 

 

Through some videos, readings and class discussions, we will explore these complex questions.  

Parallels between Mass Incarceration and Jim Crow

  • What are the similarities and differences between Jim Crow and mass incarceration? 

  • How is mass incarceration a form of structural violence?

 

In this lesson, we will identify similarities and differences between Jim Crow and mass incarceration, evaluate Alexander’s thesis in The New Jim Crow and explore in detail her use of the bird cage metaphor in looking at mass incarceration as a form of structural violence. ​

Mass Incarceration on Trial

As the culmination activity of this unit, we will put mass incarceration on trial for its role in creating a new racial caste system in the USA. 

Restorative Vs Retributive Justice

  • What is the difference between retributive and restorative justice? 

  • To what extent does retributive justice in the US reduce crime and keep people safe? 

  • To what extent does restorative justice bring about safety and security? 

 

Through some videos, investigations, and readings, we will explore these questions.

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