This module is a resource for lecturers
This section contains suggestions for in-class or pre-class educational exercises, while a post-class assignment for assessing student understanding of the Module is suggested in a separate section.
The exercises in this section are most appropriate for classes of between 30 and 50 students, where students can be easily organized into small groups in which they discuss cases or conduct activities before providing feedback to the entire class. Although it is theoretically possible to have the same small group structure in large classes comprising a few hundred students, it is more challenging. The easiest way to deal with the requirement for small group discussion in a large class is to simply ask students to self-organize into groups of five or six by turning to the other students sitting close to them. When feedback is required, the lecturer should use discretion, because not all groups will be able to provide feedback every time. The lecturer should make random selections and try to ensure that all groups get the opportunity to provide feedback at least once.
All exercises in this section are appropriate for both graduate and undergraduate students. However, as students' prior knowledge and exposure to these issues varies widely, decisions about appropriateness of exercises should be based on their educational and social context.
Exercise 1: Understanding of justice
In-class, small group exercise
This exercise should encourage students to reflect on the concept of justice. In small groups, students discuss what their understanding of justice is.
- The exercise could be used at the beginning of the class ("The Criminal Justice System and Legal Justice")
- Lecturer gives a brief introduction, i.e. every justice system is built around ethical considerations
- Students are encouraged to discuss the concept of justice
Guiding questions for students
- What is your understanding of justice?
- What are your ethical considerations of justice?
- From your perspective, what is justice trying to achieve?
- Students organize into small groups and discuss the questions.
- The lecturer calls on every group for their answers.
- Time: 10 minutes
Exercise 2: Reflection about a victim impact statement
In-class, small group exercise
Students are asked to read a victim impact statement and reflect about an adequate response regarding justice for the victim.
- This exercise can be applied when talking about the justice needs of victims
- Lecturer hands out a victim impact statement and asks students to discuss the following guiding questions:
- How did the crime make the victim feel? How did it affect the victim emotionally?
- What do you think are the needs of the victim?
- Reflect critically about a legal (criminal justice) and a non-legal response to the victim.
- How do you think a satisfying experience of justice might look to the victim? Imagine a response to crime that would best meet the needs of the victim.
- Students organize into small groups and discuss the questions outlined above.
- The lecturer calls on every group for their answers
- Time: 15-20 minutes
Exercise 3: Comparing characteristics of restorative justice and retributive justice
In-class small group exercise
This group work provides the opportunity to encourage critical thinking about the way wrongdoing is dealt with.
In search of cash and valuables, Jim and Ben, aged 19, decide to burgle a vacant house. They need the money to buy a new Xbox. After ringing the bell and making sure that no one is at home, they break into the house. They steal cash and valuable jewellery that they find in the bedroom. As they are about to leave the dwelling, Celia, the 68-year-old house owner, walks through the door. Jim and Ben are in panic, push Celia violently to the ground and flee. Celia breaks several ribs in the fall and can only stand up with great difficulty. She immediately calls her daughter Rachel, who she has just visited, and tells her in shock about the violent incident. Rachel immediately notifies an ambulance and the police.
Based on this scenario, students are required to discuss what kind of proceedings would have been undertaken within the criminal justice system, and what an alternative, restorative justice course of action might look like.
Questions on restorative justice:
- What happened?
- Who was affected?
- How can the situation be redressed?
Questions about retributive justice:
- What laws were broken?
- Who violated them?
- What punishment do they deserve?
- Lecturer presents scenario, and then asks students to discuss the case from a conventional criminal justice, and a restorative justice perspective, and record their answers in writing.
- Students organize into small groups
- Time for group discussion: 15 minutes
Invite a criminal justice professional and, wherever possible, a restorative justice practitioner to talk about their experiences. For example, invite a judge to discuss the sentencing process, with particular emphasis on the aims and principles of sentencing and how they influence the judicial decision-making process. This presentation can be used as a means of prompting students to contemplate the various ethical considerations that guide judicial decision-making.
If possible, invite a restorative justice practitioner to talk about his/her experience in working with victims and offenders. This presentation can be used as a means of prompting students to understand the practitioner's views about the ways in which victims and offenders benefit from restorative justice encounters. Students may also like to reflect on the challenges that the restorative justice practitioner experience in his/her work.
Next: Case studies