Chapter Activities

These lively and stimulating ideas for use in and out of class reinforce active learning. The activities apply to individual or group projects.

Activity 1:

Inmate Housing Classification

Draw on recent criminal cases in the media or court cases in your local jurisdiction to provide a variety of scenarios to students for this application. Alternatively, use high-profile cases (e.g., Charles Mason, Bill Cosby, Kalief Browder, Martha Stewart) to demonstrate various types of crimes and offenders. Use student polling software or an alternative method to count votes to collectively decide appropriate classification levels for the offenders in the cases described. When disagreements arise, have students create a detailed profile for the offender to support their chosen classification level. Ask for volunteers to present their classification argument to the class. Administer the classification poll again to gauge the impact of student discussion and support for the varied positions.

Activity 2:

Kalief Browder Classification

In this activity, students will describe and assess the classification of Kalief Browder who was held on Rikers Island after being arrested for robbery.

Students may learn about the case from a variety of sources:





Assign students to choose one of these sources (or another approved source discussing the case) and write a response paper. For an in-class writing assignment the teacher will want to either assign reading/documentary prior to class or set aside class time for this portion of the activity.

The response paper should include the following information:

  • Describe the case and demographic history of Kalief Browder.
  • Highlight the circumstances that led to his detention at Rikers despite not having appeared at a trial or been found guilty.
  • Summarize the housing situation during his stay at Rikers.
  • Reaction to the outcome of this case.

Prompts for discussion could include:

  • What actions did the correctional system take to protect Kalief Browder when he was processed through Rikers Island, an adult jail system?
  • How should have the correctional system handled Kalief Browder’s case as a juvenile?
  • What type of custody level would could have resulted in a different outcome in this case?