Crime & Punishment

— Suzy Wittman

FBI Agent Chip Smith talks with Explorations students

These past weeks have been full of fascinating experiences for all three of our Fall clusters, and the Crime and Punishment Cluster is no exception!  One of the many things that sets Explorations apart is the prevalence of field experiences and guest speakers that enrich our curruclum.  Just imagine having some of these diverse experiences as a teenager!

Last week, our class was honored to host FBI agent Chip Smith (yep, that’s his real name!), who came to Explorations and spoke with our class.  We then headed off to Seattle, where we met with several representatives from the King County Bar Association, Judge Mary Kay Becker of the Washington Court of Appeals, and Doug Honig of the ACLU.  We then headed to court, where we observed several Superior Court trials at the King County Courthouse.

With all these varied viewpoints, our class discussions have ranged from formal lectures to heated debates, but all have offered students the opportunity to weigh their personal experiences and value systems against our society’s methods of dealing with criminal behavior. Several students found it engaging to simply compare the handful of judges we observed and compare their approaches to interacting with plaintiffs, defendants, and juries, as well as the overall tone they set in their courtroom.

Chris works with hair sample data in Forensics

Students have much to say about  what they found particularly meaningful about our field experiences.  They are also having the chance to expand their learning about Crime and Punishment to their science class, Forensics, where they are taking fingerprints and analyzing hair samples.  And their Crime Literature class is keeping them busy, too.

Next week we have visits scheduled with Dave Reynolds of Juvenile Court; Explorations alumni parent Gary Dolin, who works with adjudicated youth, and author Ken Klonsky who co-wrote the biography, “Eye of the Hurricane” about boxer Rubin Carter.  Carter was convicted twice of murder before being aquitted; he later served as the Executive Director of the Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted.  Also upcoming is a talk that will given by Bellingham Police officer and Kyle Morris, a former guard in the Connecticut State Prison system. It is a fascinating process to learn about justice in our country!

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