The CrimSim

The CrimSim is an immersive, interactive event that allows individuals to experience the reality of the criminal justice system from varying perspectives. Imagine walking into a fetid jail cell, then being escorted to the courtroom, charged with armed robbery, and faced with the choice of a guilty plea or a 10-year prison sentence after a two-minute meeting with your public defender. It’s socially-engaged theater taken to the next level.

The CrimSim is acollaboration between Fogbreak Justice Founders, Shanti Brien and Christy Chandler and independent storyteller, Allison Flom
  • Introduce participants to the power disparities and role of implicit bias in the criminal justice system through an immersive, theatrical experience.
  • Build empathy for those impacted by the criminal justice system (through destigmatizing, clarifying, and reframing the experience).
  • Include participants in the movement for criminal justice reform by igniting conversation and action.

Interested in Hosting a CrimSim? 


Following the pilot of the CrimSim with a group of high school and college students...

“Today was amazing in the best of ways and worst. From understanding how the public defender role works and operates, to having the fate of someone’s freedom or lack thereof in your hands for a matter of minutes is jarringly anxiety driven and scary.” (role: Public Defender)


On what they found most valuable about the program… “Learning how the system works, the process. I’ve never been arrested/ familiar with the criminal justice system so it’s scary to know that this is what (innocent) people  go through.” (role: Defendant)


On what they learned about the Criminal Justice System… “I saw it literally as a system. I feel like people that work in law/criminal justice get desensitized to human emotion. Also, the shuffle and waiting to be seen in court is confusing, as you never know what is going on, but you just agree with what your lawyer says. Plus you aren’t your lawyer’s only client! (role: Defendant)

“[The system] is not as “put together” as you might imagine. There are a lot of large holes and nuances in every part of the system that make it seem unfair” (role: Judge)

The CrimSim will create a microcosm of the injustices within criminal justice system through a complex web of role playing, unscripted and institutional-like interactions involving multi-media presentations and real time consequences.  Participants will receive an initial “dossier” for their character, props, and parameters for interactions. Participants will not only be exposed to the functional roles and responsibilities of the criminal justice stakeholders--arrestees, defendants, convicted, police, prosecutors, public defenders, and judges--both officially and in practice, but participants will also experience the interests, biases, motives, and challenges of stakeholders.  For instance, police officers will become arrestees and defendants for the day, while defendants will walk in the shoes of the police or prosecutor. The simulation will progress without interruption or break in character and will be followed by a debriefing and discussion. By vividly experiencing different lives within the criminal justice system in a uniquely intimate way, participants will leave the CrimSim with greater empathy for and trust in all of the people whose lives are deeply involved with criminal justice.