Foundations in Law 1: Human Nature, Rules, and Power

In this unit, students consider why humans make rules, what purposes rules and laws serve, and how legal structures both distribute and concentrate power. Using the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. legal system as a point of comparison, students decide what role the voice of youth plays in decision-making. Students collaborate, conduct research, and consider how their personal interests, working styles, and skills apply to professions in the fields of law and law enforcement.

Foundations in Law 2: The Legal System in Action

In this unit, students examine how the legal system actually works. Students examine the different approaches that law enforcement professionals use to promote school safety, and consider both the intended and unintended consequences of a law. Students also explore how youth and adults advocate for a more effective and just legal system.

Foundations in Law 3: Criminal Law and the Pursuit of Justice

In this unit, students learn the steps of the criminal justice process and apply the elements of a criminal law to a fictional homicide case. Students build their teamwork and critical-thinking skills by working in different professional roles to identify relevant facts, analyze and synthesize information, make inferences, and develop persuasive legal arguments about their case. Students consider how their choices address equity in the criminal justice process and reflect on the extent to which the criminal justice system promotes justice.

Foundations in Law 4: Lawsuits and Liability: The Civil Justice System

In this unit, students are introduced to civil law and the legal structures designed to protect people from individuals and corporations that cause harm. Using a famous liability case as a case study, students compare and contrast the goals, professional roles, and standards of proof in civil and criminal law. As they take on the roles of different stakeholders in a civil case and bring the case to trial, they consider the role that settlement plays in the civil justice system and analyze the ways in which interest groups may affect public perceptions of the legal process.

Law and Justice Career Explorations

In this unit, students will investigate the varied career opportunities available within the law and justice field. They will conduct research on possible career paths and investigate the skills needed for each one. In addition, students will explore the broader social and economic impact of their career choices, while reviewing the history of various law and justice visionaries and their significance to the field.

Foundations in Criminal Justice 1.1: What Is Criminal Justice?

Students consider their perceptions and understandings of the criminal justice system. They learn about the framing questions for the unit and the big ideas they will explore. Students identify and explore the different reasons that societies have criminalized behavior and how the definition of crime can change over time. They respond to a story that illustrates a current issue, cyberbullying, that some people argue should be addressed through the criminal justice system.

Foundations in Criminal Justice 1.2: Criminal Law and the Constitution

In this part of the unit, students learn about how crime is defined and how to apply existing criminal laws to different situations. After assessing whether current criminal laws are sufficient to address the need for justice in the cyberbullying case, students consider whether a proposed cyberbullying law is enforceable and constitutional by comparing it to existing criminal laws. Students weigh arguments for and against the proposed law, explore the advantages and drawbacks of creating new criminal laws, and identify some potential unintended consequences of criminalizing behavior.

Foundations in Criminal Justice 1.3: Theories of Prevention and Punishment

Working in the context of the cyberbullying case, students look at how crimes can be prevented, how they are punished, and whether criminalization is the best approach to all situations. They begin by considering different perspectives on crime prevention, and look at prevention strategies for cyberbullying. Students then identify some of the different theories of punishment, compare approaches to punishment between criminal and civil law, and consider the benefits and drawbacks of criminalizing behavior.

Foundations in Criminal Justice 1.4: The Path to Justice

After sharing the perspectives of all the stakeholders in the cyberbullying case, students work in teams to choose the best policy approach for addressing cyberbullying. Teams create and prepare talking points arguing for or against the proposed cyberbullying law and participate in a legislative hearing. Finally, they revisit the unit’s framing questions and reflect on what they learned during the unit.

Foundations in Criminal Justice 2.1: Approaches to Law Enforcement

Students explore theories of policing and develop their understanding of how law enforcement responds to, prevents, and investigates crime. As a case study, they examine the history of and issues related to drug policy in the United States from multiple perspectives. Students learn about the unit project and take on roles in a multi-agency law enforcement task force. They critically examine how drug laws and policies can affect law enforcement strategies. Students begin to do research on their assigned agency role.

Foundations in Criminal Justice 2.2: Investigations and the Protection of Rights

Students work in agency teams to begin their investigation by reviewing a case file for drug-related crime and analyzing evidence. Students learn about investigative tools, strategies, protocols, and procedures. They learn about Miranda warnings, and consider how constitutional limits apply to law enforcement professionals. Students explore Supreme Court decisions and discuss implications for the rights of suspects as well as the work of law enforcement professionals. Students critically examine issues that may arise during investigation, such as false confessions, and consider guidelines for ethical reasoning and conduct. Agency teams review and apply criminal laws to the facts of their case.

Foundations in Criminal Justice 2.3: Race and the Law

In their role as criminal investigators, students explore the issue of racial profiling and discuss its implications for their investigation. They learn about federal guidelines on the use of race and apply the guidelines to fictional scenarios. Students critically examine the impact of drug laws and law enforcement policies on communities and the inequities that have emerged. They read guidelines for protecting civil rights and strategies for addressing implicit bias, and consider how these approaches can be integrated into law enforcement training and operations.

Foundations in Criminal Justice 2.4: The Multi-Agency Task Force

Students across agency teams pool resources and information as they work in a multi-agency task force. Students share information from their case files, identify connections between their cases, synthesize evidence, and formulate a hypothesis and rationale that will inform their decisions as to whether there is probable cause to make an arrest.

Foundations in Criminal Justice 2.5: A Just Response

Students gain an international perspective by exploring how other countries respond to drug-related crime and how U.S. drug policy has affected countries worldwide. Students revisit the issues they explored throughout the unit, reflect on their role as investigators, and develop a recommendation for improving law enforcement policy or operations and advancing justice in the United States.