Discussion Questions

Prepare for class discussions by answering the discussion questions.

1. Should our criminal justice system be more punitive or rehabilitative? Why? Is it possible for a system to be both punitive and rehabilitative? What would you want to happen to someone who had committed a crime against a member of your family?

2. Would it be difficult for you to work with people who had been convicted of crimes? Perhaps particular crimes more than others? Why or why not?

3. Some have suggested that uniform sentencing could help reduce or eliminate the unequal outcomes experienced by members of different groups in the criminal justice system. What do you think? What would be the positives and negatives of uniform sentencing?

4. Since many jobs require background checks and many more job applications ask applicants whether they have ever been convicted of a felony, it can be very difficult (if not impossible) for people released from prison to find “legitimate” jobs. Do you think all people with felonies on their record should have to report them to any prospective employer who asks? Can you come up with an alternative policy that could help give former prisoners a better chance at providing for themselves and their families through legal work?