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This activity puts the prison system and political prisoners into a broader international context through the addition of international law as a basis for the resistance to the oppression of US prisons.
Learning Style
Active Reading / Research / Critical Thinking
Participants will practice reading international law summaries; analyzing the effect of these laws on prisoners’ ability to defend themselves against prison oppression; working collectively in small groups; creating a timeline of prisons and political prisoners within US history based on international laws presented and studied.
1 Day
Intended Audience
High School or College Seminar
  • Activity Handout
  • Group Instructions
  • International Law Handout
  • Masking Tape


Anticipatory set
Question/remind students about previously studied US legislation and court decisions and their effect on slavery, prisons and prisoners. Reminder of previous lessons on PP/POWs. What do these international laws provide? How do prisoners, especially political prisoners, and their supporters use these international laws? Why would international laws be important or necessary?
Assignment handout
Handout directions and show on document projector: students read out loud. Question students for understanding.
Group work
Each group will read their laws and determine what effects each law will have; what do these laws provide? Who will use these laws? Why?  
Create timeline Have each group explain their laws and each law’s effects. Other groups take notes. After presentations have each group tape their laws to the wall in chronological order to create a timeline of international laws. Leave the timeline up for future lessons—students may take photos of the timeline for their notes. 

Student Assessment

Students will turn in written response to day’s activity.