Applied Learning and Teamwork Leads to Government Response
Should a 17 year old be charged as an adult in the Wisconsin Justice System? Currently in Wisconsin, 17 year olds are charged, sentenced, and prosecuted as adults (Wade, McCulley, Harkings, La Tarte, Regan, & Sommerfeld). To examine this law, Globe Criminal Justice students studied the possibility of changing the age requirements for those treated as adults in the criminal system and shared their opinions with law makers.
Globe-La Crosse students in Jeff Trotnic’s Corrections class worked in teams to research the Wisconsin state prison system and the various punishments juvenile and adult offenders receive. Trotnic challenged students with a service learning project to evaluate the prison system models, analyze correctional alternatives, and write state legislators to inform them of their educated judgments.
“As instructors, it is our responsibility to challenge our students to work together to achieve team objectives. Service learning projects are excellent ways to achieve this. This project enabled me to watch a group of students come together as a team to achieve the goals of the project and successfully communicate their judgments to two state politicians,” said Jeff Trotnic, Criminal Justice Instructor.
After the students wrote letters to their state legislators, they received responses from both Senator Jennifer Shilling and Representative Steve Doyle. Both politicians expressed gratitude for the student’s work and acknowledged their efforts to better understand the juvenile and adult legal system in Wisconsin.
“Deterring criminal activity and preventing recidivism are both important issues facing our state,” Senator Shilling wrote in her letter to the students. “This is an important issue that has gained statewide attention over the years and I am glad that you chose to examine this issue in your classroom and share your thoughts with me.”
Wade, K., McCulley, S., Harkins, D., La Tarte, A., Regan, M., & Sommerfeld, R. (2008). 17-year-old offenders in the adult criminal justice system (Report 08-3). Madison, WI: State of Wisconsin Legislative Bureau.