As a general proposition, we should do more to publicize the consequences of delinquent and criminal conduct. We lose the maximum deterrent impact of mandatory/minimum and recidivist statutes when would be perpetrators don't know the penalty for their action. This curriculum starts the education early and in a formal way.
The curriculum subject matter will be taught through traditional lectures, mock trials, case studies, scenarios, guest speakers, videos and panel discussions combining law enforcement with students. Research papers and testing will help us gauge the student's understanding, but will also help us learn from them.
By teaching young people about the realities of the system it is hoped that they might develop coping skills for avoiding negative influences. Suggestions include:
However, we need to hear from students as to what their understanding of crime is. Let's ask them:
The District Attorney's Office, Defender Association, U.S. Attorney's Office, Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, Police Department, Mayor's Office of Community Service and others interface with the schools through various programs. These efforts are not, however, coordinated in a way that insures that all of Philadelphia's public schools have access to the presentations or that the same information is presented. The proposed curriculum would create a schedule for presentations and clarity regarding the subject matter presented. Teachers will have to convey the bulk of the material because the agencies mentioned cannot be relied upon to teach the curriculum. However, with proper planning, I believe the aforementioned agencies can provide the necessary support. Often, when representatives from law enforcement, etc. visit a school we usually address a large assembly. We try to impart some wisdom and some information, but there is no opportunity for any real interaction or follow up. I anticipate that even with the implementation of the curriculum, some large gatherings or video presentations over the District's TV network will still be necessary to give all students the opportunity to hear some speakers (panelists or lecturers), but the presentations will be followed by class discussions, testing and/or essays to insure that students absorbed the information. To put it in the vernacular of students, the information from the assembly or video will be "on the test". Law enforcement, etc. will have to work to make sure that presentations are insightful and interesting. (Feedback from teachers and students will help in this regard). Similarly, victim groups, the Medical Examiner's office, Judges, the Defender Association, etc. will be coordinated to maximize the impact of their presentations.
The curriculum was prepared by:
George D. Mosee, Jr., Deputy District Attorney, July 1, 2004
Juvenile Justice System section prepared by:
Carole Weiner, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia District Attorney's Office
Federal Sentencing chart prepared by:
Robert Reed, Assistant United States Attorney