Lesson 2: Criminal Sentencing


Activity 1: Purpose and Principles of Sentencing in Canada

The assessment piece for Activity 1 is informal and would target the completion of the assigned tasks and a successful presentation of an opinion. Participation of the students is more important than the depth, accuracy or knowledge demonstrated in their responses. Alternatively, you can collect the written copy of the group’s reflections and assign a grade.

Activity 2: Mandatory Minimum Sentence

Two rubrics have been provided. Handout 5: Debate Grading Rubric can be used by you to grade each student’s performance. Handout 6: Group/Self Evaluation Rubric can be given to the students to evaluate themselves and their group. You may also want to keep team scores and have bonus marks assigned to each winning team.

Activity 3: Alternative Measures

Introduction to Alternatives to Criminal Court

Handout 8: Alternatives to Criminal Court - Quiz can be discussed and marked as a class or be taken in for marks.

Answer Key: Handout 8: Alternatives to Criminal Court

  1. What are some of the ways that the court system is adversarial?
    The courtroom itself is often physically divided, with one side versus the other, and a judge in the middle (as referee). Crown argues the case against the accused. Trials are won or lost. The accused is guilty or not guilty. Courts are about crime and punishment.
  1. What role do offenders play in the court system?
    The sole purpose of a trial is to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused. The Crown presents witnesses and evidence to help determine if the accused violated the law. It’s all about the offender.
  1. What role do victims play in the court system?
    Victims can submit a victim impact statement to the judge, which may affect sentencing. Unless they are witnesses, victims generally do not participate in the trial. Victims have a very limited role in the court system.
  1. What do you think restorative justice means?
    To restore means to bring back. Justice is a principal of fairness and the process of administering laws. : Restorative Justice is a theory of criminal justice that focuses on crime as an act against the individual or community rather than the state. Dialog between the offender and the victim is crucial to restorative justice. The person who has harmed takes responsibility for their actions and the person who has been harmed may take a central role in the process, in many instances receiving an apology and reparation directly or indirectly from the person who has caused them harm. (From Wikipedia)
  1. If a criminal offender, victims, witnesses, authorities and interested community members all sit together to discuss a crime that was committed, what might be some of the outcomes?
    • Dialog and understanding by showing how the offender’s actions hurt others.
    • Learn how one individual action can impact many people.
    • Help offender understand why his conduct was wrong and why it should not be done again.
    • Help all participants confirm the values important to the community.
  2. What are some of the requirements for a restorative justice process to be effective?
    The offender must admit guilt. Victims must be willing to publicly discuss the crime. A facilitator needs to direct discussions and community members need to be involved.

Restorative Justice Conference

Participation marks may be given for the role play portion of the activity. The questions at the end may be taken in for marks. Answers to these questions will vary.

A Healing Circle Simulation

Participation marks may be given for the role play portion of the activity. The questions at the end may be taken in for marks. Answers to these questions will vary.