Street Law: A Course in Practical Law

Chapter 7: Crime in America

Cases and Resources

The Nature of Crimes
Crime on Campus
Gangs and Crime
Guns and the Law
Substance Abuse and Crime
Victims of Crime
Preventing and Reporting Crime

The Nature of Crimes
Why People Commit Crime
The causes of crime are subject to frequent debate. It is hard to know why some people commit crimes while most do not. Read this handout designed to help students identify possible reasons people commit crime. Consider these theories and the solutions offered for each theory. Decide which theories make sense to you.

U.S. Department of Justice
Read these statistics concerning crime and justice. Note the trends in federal prosecutions and investigations, felony convictions in state courts, and facts about correctional institutions.

National Crime Prevention Council
Visit this virtual library on different types of crimes and issues associated with crime. Explore crime prevention tips, facts about crime, or statistical trends.

Is Your Town Safe?
Compare the crime statistics in your town to statistics in other towns or to the national average. How does your town measure up?

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Crime on Campus
Security on Campus, Inc.
This site provides statistics and information about crime and security issues on public and private college campuses. Use the links to the campus police site of a school that you are interested in learning more about.

USDOJ: Victims of Crime
Becoming a victim of any type of crime can leave a person feeling violated and angry or afraid. There are organizations that offer help and assistance to victims of crime. Learn about some of these groups at the U.S. Department of Justice Web site.

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Gangs and Crime
Gang Structure
Learn about the structure of gang organizations. What are the different levels of membership in a gang, and what does each level mean?

Gang Resistance Education and Training
The Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse provides information on gangs as well as tips on how to reduce gang activity.

OJJDP: Gang Membership
Read statistics published by the federal government on gang membership and juvenile delinquent activity. How do gangs affect a young person's likelihood of committing a crime?

Institute for Intergovernmental Research
Browse through this extensive collection of articles and publications on gangs and gang activity in the United States. The articles come from an array of organizations.

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Guns and the Law
National Center for Policy Analysis
The right to bear arms and the effort to curb violence and crime exacerbated by guns has led to an ongoing debate among Americans. Explore some of the issues in the gun-control debate, such as what rights the Constitution actually guarantees citizens or whether gun-control laws would make a difference in crime prevention.

Firearms and Crime Statistics
Read these statistics published by the U.S. Department of Justice. What conclusions can you draw about the role guns play in criminal activity?

The Brady Campaign
Learn about the gun control movement from the Brady Campaign. Explore current news, ongoing legal action, federal and state gun laws, information on your state's legislation, the voting records of legislators in gun-control issues, and definitions of terms.

The National Rifle Association
Learn about the anti-gun control movement from the National Rifle Association (NRA). Read facts about guns and crimes, examine the NRA's position on legislation, and see which legislators the NRA supports.

The Brady Act
Read the text of the Brady Act , as well as the opinion in Printz v. U.S. that invalidated part of the Brady Act .

District of Columbia v. Heller
Read about the 2008 Supreme Court case that overturned Washington D.C. 's ban on handguns.

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Substance Abuse and Crime
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
This site, hosted by the DEA, is designed for students. Read the articles on different types of drugs, as well as steps you can take to prevent drug use in your school.

Alcohol and Drug Information
This site, maintained by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration contains information and articles on alcohol and drug abuse in the United States as well as publications on substance abuse issues. Learn about prevention, facts, research, and laws.

Partnership for a Drug-Free America
There are many resources directed at keeping America's youth free from substance abuse. Explore this site to learn some strategies and recommendations to keep young people away from harmful substances.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
Explore statistics on drunk driving, drunk driving legislation, hot issues, current news, and community services for victims of drunk driving.

Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD)
Like MADD, SADD is focused on substance abuse facts and information. This organization focuses on students and how young people can make a difference in changing the negative impact of drunk driving and substance abuse in this country.

The legalization of marijuana is sometimes separated from the general debate on the legalization of drugs. Some want marijuana legalized for medical purposes and others feel this drug is not as harmful as other substances. Explore the arguments on this site and decide if you agree.

The DEA Position on Marijuana
Now read the opinions of a federal agency entrenched in the war on drugs. What arguments does the DEA offer in the opposition to legalizing marijuana or other drugs? Is it true that marijuana is not harmful?

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Victims of Crime
USDOJ: Children as Victims
Young people can be the victims of crime. Read this report by the U.S. Department of Justice on the statistical information regarding children as crime victims.

The National Center for Victims of Crime
Visit this site to find information, facts, and articles on victims of crime and the support networks available for victims. How can organizations and individuals help victims of crime overcome the trauma? What are the common characteristics of crime victims?

Help for Victims of Crime
The U.S. Department of Justice also offers resources and connections to those that can assist victims of crimes. What groups exist in your community for victim assistance?

Victim's Assistance and Compensation Programs
Many states now offer compensation to victims of crime in the form of financial restitution. Identify the program in your state that offers financial help to victims.

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Preventing and Reporting Crime
National Crime Prevention Council
Visit this site to learn more ways to protect yourself and your community from crime.

Good Samaritan Laws
Read this article on Good Samaritan Laws and how such laws might or might not change public behavior. Is there a Good Samaritan Law in your state? How do you feel about passing Good Samaritan Laws?

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