2016: An Imperfect World
Crime & Justice
- What is a crime, and who decides how serious a crime is? Who should?
- Are there countries in which those accused of crimes are guilty until proven innocent?
- How can someone be proven guilty of a crime?
- What acts are considered crimes in some countries but not in others?
- To what degree should citizens be involved in law enforcement?
- Should a person be held responsible for breaking laws he or she doesn’t know about?
- Should non-citizens be tried differently for crimes than citizens?
- Should judges or juries be the ultimate arbiters of guilt or innocence?
- What is the purpose of sending someone to prison?
- Is it ever just to try one person for another person’s crime?
- Is there a difference between a crime and a crime against humanity?
- Is crime more common in certain societies or among certain groups of people?
- Can a criminal be a hero?
- Is there such a thing as “honor among thieves”?
- What is the line, if any, between justice and the law?
- Should the government be allowed to prosecute someone for a crime even if the victim says not to pursue charges?
- What is the difference between terrorism and crime?
- Can something be a crime even if it has no victims?
- Is anyone who breaks the law a criminal?
- What type of acts justify trying someone as a war criminal?
- How should countries address crime that occurs across borders?
- Should all countries follow the same legal code?
The Bad and the Ugly: Understanding Crime and Criminals
- A History of Crime: From Pirates to Phishermen
- The Criminal Mind: Insights from Psychology
- The Criminal in Society: Insights from Anthropology and Sociology
- Crime as Spectacle: Postmodern Perspectives on Criminology
Codes of Misconduct: Prosecution & Punishment
- Hammurabi, Draco, and Other Early Approaches
- Modern Legal Systems: Common | Civil | Religious | Statutory
- Classifications of Crime: Personal | Property | Inchoate | Statutory | Other
- Crime Investigation and Criminal Apprehension
- Courthouse Party: The Judicial Process Around the World
- Types of Punishment: Deterrence | Retribution | Rehabilitation | Incapacitation
- The International Criminal Court: Crime in a Globalized World
CSI: The Science of… (Examples)
- Fingerprints | Genetic Testing | Blood Spatter | Autopsies
- Scene Recognition & Examination | Sketches | Evidence Collection
- Forensic Entomology | Trace Evidence | Serology | Simulations
- DNA Profiling | Offender Profiling | Forensics
Types of Crime to Research (Examples)
- Felonies vs. Misdemeanors | White Collar vs. Blue Collar
- Theft | Robbery | Burglary | Vandalism
- Assault | Laundering | Extortion | Blackmail | Embezzlement
- Caper | Heist | Conspiracy | Fraud | Larceny | Hate Crimes
- Trafficking | Kidnapping | Classic & Digital Piracy | 419
Notorious Crimes & Capers (Examples)
- The Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist | The Agricultural Bank of China Robbery
- Fortaleza Banco Central Robbery | KLM Diamond Heist | Lufthansa Heist
- Salish Sea Foot Mystery | Great Train Robbery
Notable Criminals to Research (Examples)
- Billy the Kid | Robin Hood | Bonnie & Clyde | Al Capone | DB Cooper
- Charles Manson | Charles Ponzi | Frank Abagnale | James Hogue
- Barefoot Bandit | Los Zetas | Zodiac Killer | Postcard Bandit
- Griselda Blanco | Jacques Mesrine | El Chapo | Vassilis Paleokostas
- Jonathan Tokeley-Parry | Philippe Jamin | Patty Hearst | Unabomber
- Moriarty | Hannibal Lecter | Walter White | Dexter | the Joker
Additional Terms to Learn (Examples)
- Cartels | Mafia | Syndicate | Extradition
- Jury | Reasonable Doubt | Attorneys | Bail | Witnesses
- Types of Pleas | Eyewitnesses | Arraignment | Sentencing
- Alibi | Corrections | Corporeal & Capital Punishment
- Parole | Rehabilitation | Probation | Appeals | Double Jeopardy
Selected Film: Ocean’s Eleven
Additional Questions & Cases to Discuss (Examples)
- Study the Yakuza as an example of criminal organizations around the world. How does this so-called "Japanese mafia" differ from its counterparts in other countries? Is there a role for such organizations in civilized society?
- When and how should technology be used to enable citizens to assist police in solving crimes? Are there ways in which inviting citizen participation could be counterproductive?
- Learn more about the debate over "amber alerts". Some find them to be effective; others believe they only increase public anxiety. How could they be improved?
- Research the death penalty. Is it legal in your country? Does it help reduce crime rates? When, if ever, is it appropriate for the state to execute a person, and, if so, by what means?
- Consider the phenomenally successful Serial podcast (season 1). Is it ever appropriate for the media to sensationalize a crime—or to reopen a seemingly closed investigation?
- Research vigilante justice, including this ongoing Facebook-driven movement in Peru. Is it ever appropriate for citizens to take the law into their own hands?
- Are three strikes laws a mistake?
- Does the Internet increase crime?
- Is it ever appropriate to use racial profiling to help solve or prevent crimes?
- Some studies show that women are committing more crimes than in the past. What might explain this, and is there a difference in the crimes that men and women commit?
- Do you think crime is getting worse in your country? Why do so many Americans believe crime rates are increasing in the United States even though they are lower than ever?