Learning about the criminal justice system

A look inside Mr. Kulm's criminal justice classroom at Lincoln High School

Where were you on the morning of October 29?  Many Lincoln High School students from Mr. Kulm’s criminal justice class remember their whereabouts that morning very clearly.  And their stories corroborate, as do the sign-in sheets and photos that prove without a reasonable doubt that they were on a field trip at the McNair High School campus attending a Witness to Innocence (WTI) event.  

The WTI event - coordinated by the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office, Office of the Public Defender for San Joaquin County, and the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) - was an opportunity for the students to connect with attorneys and prosecutors and hear from real-life exonerees who were failed by the criminal justice system.  

On Nov. 21, SJCOE Associate Superintendent of Student Programs and Services Troy Brown visited Kulm’s classroom to speak with students and see firsthand how the WTI experience ties into their curriculum.  Said one of Kulm’s students that attended the event, “I wanted to be a lawyer, but I didn’t know what area of law.  And now I kind of want to be a lawyer for the wrongfully convicted because they’re in there for something they didn’t do, and they shouldn’t serve time for something someone else did.”  

During his visit, Brown also witnessed the students in action as they tested their interrogation - and acting - skills using the Reid Technique nine-step formula.  Working as teams, students taught their classmates about the step they had been assigned to, such as confrontation, theme development, and getting the suspect’s attention. Then, the interrogation process unfolded step-by-step as students acted out each technique in the center of the classroom as suspects and interrogators using mock scenarios.  

This activity and the WTI field trip were just a few of the many ways Kulm enhances student learning.  In addition to the mock interrogations, the class recently heard from guest speaker, Miriam Lyell, San Joaquin County’s public defender.  And many of the students are participating in their school’s mock trial team as they prepare for the San Joaquin County Mock Trial in February 2020.  Based on Brown’s analysis of his visit, Kulm is a prime suspect in designing meaningful learning activities and experiences for his students.  Case closed.

Posted: 11/22/2019