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Fear the Reaper
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 06/26/2017

Concertina-wire The following is an installment in "Icebreakers 101: The College Edition", a series featuring "Ice Breaker's" designed to promote training awareness and capabilities in the corrections industry.

There are certain topics that will always evoke controversy. Chief among these related to the criminal justice field is capital punishment. This is a very simple icebreaker that explores this.

Poll class on different crimes and how they should be executed. Use these questions.
  1. Do you believe in capital punishment?
  2. What are some general execution options?
  3. Who should perform the execution? Are there moral implications?
  4. What do you think should be the punishment for the following crimes?
    1. Premeditated murder
    2. Kidnapping
    3. Car jacking
    4. Rape
    5. Child molestation
Now, give the questions to everyone. Put them on paper. Use the following polls one at a time in three different stages:

One – The Individual Phase – let each person in the class write their answers.

Two – The Group Phase – assemble answers and discuss individual answers. See if there is a consensus. Have groups deliver the answers.

Three – The Class Phase – Have a recorder combine all answers and open the floor for discussion. Keep a handle on this, as the discussion can take a boisterous turn.

Capital Punishment Poll
  1. Do you believe in capital punishment?
  2. What are some general execution options?
  3. Who should perform the execution? Are there moral implications?
  4. What do you think should be the punishment for the following crimes?
    1. Premeditated murder
    2. Kidnapping
    3. Car jacking
    4. Rape
    5. Child molestation


Joe Bouchard is a Librarian employed with the Michigan Department of Corrections and a collaborator with The International Association of Correctional Training Personnel (IACTP). He is also the author of “IACTP’s Corrections Icebreakers: The Bouchard 101, 2014” and "Operation Icebreakers: Shooting for Excellence". The installments in this series include his opinions. The agency for which he works is not in any way responsible for the content or accuracy of this material, and the views are those of the contributor and not necessarily those of the agency. While some material is influenced by other works, all of the icebreakers have been developed by Joe Bouchard.

Visit the Joe Bouchard page

Other articles by Bouchard:


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