Lesson 2: Criminal Sentencing


Mandatory Minimum Sentence

  1. Invite a guest speaker from L.I.N.C. (Long-term Inmates Now in the Community) to your classroom. L.I.N.C. members have served time in federal prisons and can speak frankly and directly about their experiences and the nature of sentencing. Prepare a list of questions or issues you would like them to address in the presentation. Reach L.I.N.C. at www.LINCsociety.bc.ca. Note: Some of the guest speakers have committed serious crimes and you will want to discuss this with your school administration prior to making an invitation.
  1. Conduct a research poll in your school on firearms control in Canada. Design a series of questions about firearms laws or gun control using information from www.RCMP.grc.gc.ca and circulate the survey to as many students as possible. A reasonable sample from which you could draw conclusions would require a random sample of at least 10% of the student body (your poll results will be accurate within 5% of the total school population if well designed). Upon completion of the survey gather the results and draft your conclusions.
  1. Write a letter to the local newspaper editor or create a blog on the issue of mandatory minimum sentences for firearms and drug offences. If you choose a blog provide the URL to your teacher/classmates and have them respond. Visit the Parliament of Canada’s website to find out more about this issue.

Alternative Measures

  1. Begin a restorative justice program in your school by contacting the school administration. Introduce the idea of mediating victims and offenders and having offenders take responsibility for their actions through restitution, community service or reconciliation. For more information visit www.justice.gc.ca  or www.restorativejustice.org
  2. Peer Resolution Conferences use Aboriginal restorative justice practices and principles to offer a unique alternative to certain school discipline measures, including suspensions. Have students read about this conference on  www.justiceeducation.ca/programs/peer-resolution-conferences. Then have them complete a short writing assignment on the pros and cons of this conference.
  3. Use the following videos and activities to initiate discussion on victims and restorative justice
    • For Angela – A film on racism and harassment, with a focus on Aboriginal peoples (22 minutes). 1995, National Film Board of Canada.
    • Through a Blue Lens – A film on the drug scene in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (52 minutes). 1999, National Film Board of Canada
    • Suggest that each participant create a chart showing all the people impacted by one crime and use it to demonstrate to others what they have learned.