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Chicago Law-Related Education



Chicago Law-Related Education (LRE) programs provide K–12 classroom instruction designed to educate children and adolescents about the origins and roles of law in key social systems (e.g., family, community, and school) and the juvenile and criminal justice systems. LRE programs have been shown to be effective in improving academic performance and as a practical approach for preventing delinquency in general (Gottfredson et al., 2002; Lipsey, 1999; Maguin and Loeber, 1996). In addition, there is some evidence that suggests that LRE may prevent aggressive behavior (Gottfredson, 1990; Johnson and Hunter, 1985).

The Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago (CRFC) works with elementary and secondary schools to develop critical thinking skills, civic participation, and commitment to the rule of law among young people. Nonprofit and nonpartisan, CRFC is a national leader in the design and implementation of quality law-related education (LRE) programs for local, national, and international projects. CRFC reaches out to our youngest citizens—elementary and high school students—by providing:

Student Programs—Students from diverse backgrounds are provided with opportunities to learn first hand about legal and political issues.

Teacher Training—Teachers learn in-depth content about the American legal and governmental system, as well ways to incorporate interactive methods such as mock trials, Socratic discussions, case studies, and role plays into their classrooms.

Resource Experts in the Classroom—Lawyers, judges, police officers, and other public officials are recruited and prepared to work with teachers and students.

Innovative Curricula—Designed for use in government, Constitution, civics, and other social studies classes, CRFC curricula give students background on our legal and political system and challenge them to apply this knowledge through case studies, mock trials, discussions, and other interactive means.

CRFC’s student programs engage students in grades K-12 in authentic civic learning and enable schools to be “laboratories” for democratic participation. Through hands-on activities, simulations of democratic processes, discussions of controversial issues, and cooperative learning, CRFC’s student programs help prepare students to be competent, engaged, and responsible contributors to their communities and their nation.

Risk Factors


Antisocial/delinquent beliefs

Early onset of aggression/violence

General delinquency involvement


Frequent truancy/absences/suspensions; expelled from school; dropping out of school

Identified as learning disabled

Low academic aspirations

Low achievement in school

Low school attachment/bonding/motivation/commitment to school

Poorly organized and functioning schools/inadequate school climate/negative labeling by teachers


National Gang Center: Effective program


Chicago Constitutional Rights Foundation
205 W. Randolph Street, Suite 1245
Chicago, IL 60606
Phone: (312) 663-9057
Fax: (312) 663-4321
E-mail: [email protected]


Johnson, G., and Hunter, R. (1986). Law-Related Education as a Delinquency Prevention Strategy: A Three-Year Evaluation of the Impact of LRE on Students. Boulder, CO: Social Science Education Consortium and the Center for Action Research.

Maguin, E., and Loeber, R. (1996). “Academic Performance and Delinquency.” Crime and Justice, 20:145–264.

Gottfredson, D. C. (1990). “Changing School Structures to Benefit High-Risk Youths.” In P. E. Leone (ed.), Understanding Troubled and Troubling Youth. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, pp. 246–271.

Gottfredson, D. C.; Wilson, D. B.; and Najaka, S. S. (2002). “School-Based Crime Prevention.” In L. W. Sherman, D. P. Farrington, B. C. Welsh, and D. L. MacKenzie (eds.), Evidence-Based Crime Prevention. London, UK: Routledge, pp. 56–164.

Lipsey, M. W. (1999). “Can Rehabilitative Programs Reduce the Recidivism of Juvenile Offenders? An Inquiry Into the Effectiveness of Practical Programs.” The Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law, 6(3):611–641.

Date Created: April 7, 2021