Crime and Justice

Capstone Guidelines
Capstone Project Overview:

The purpose of this project is to provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned and developed throughout their course of study in the major (practical knowledge, theoretical understanding, critical thinking skills, and intellectual curiosity) and apply it to a real world problem of crime and justice. Students are required to submit their proposed projects with clearly delineated outlines to the professor for review and approval. Each student team will also be required to present their project to the class and to generate discussion with classmates within the allotted 15 to 20 minute time frame. The final presentation must be illustrated in MS PowerPoint

Project Guidelines:

i. Discuss why you chose the topic and issue a statement of the problem. Where possible, make reference to a specific news story, agency, jurisdiction, legislative act, court ruling, etc.

ii. Provide a thorough/exhaustive review (research studies, pros and cons, in-depth analysis, etc., if appropriate) of the existing literature relative to the issue you are addressing.

iii. Apply relevant theoretical explanation to the unique issue in question.

iv. Devise strategies (strategic plan, research-based programs, new and innovative initiatives, etc.) to deal with the problem: you must justify the relevancy of the programs you recommend.

v. Propose evaluation methods: How will the effectiveness of the plan be measured? (What are the goals and objectives of your plan? What are your outcome measures? What are your success indicators?). Hint: Please refer to the chapter on evaluation research in your CRJU 300 text.

The final version of the paper must be at least 25 pages in length (excluding cover page, maps, diagrams, attachments, and references), double-spaced, type written, and include at least 10 – 15 scholarly references. All references should be made in conformity with the American Psychological Association (APA) writing style. All scholarly sources must be cited within the body of the work. All sources must be referenced in the APA format. Failure to do so could result in an “F” grade. An emphasis will be placed on being grammatically correct. All papers are to be typed, double-spaced with standard margins of one inch. Note: Please make sure to keep separate copies of all your papers that have been turned in for a grade.

Your Capstone Presentation:
Your team will present an arguable perspective about the issue of your choice. The goal is to convince the audience that your view is valid and worth listening to. Ideas that you are considering need to be carefully examined when choosing your topic, developing your argument, and organizing your paper. It is very important to ensure that you are addressing all sides of the issue and presenting it in a manner that is easy for your audience to understand.
Your job is to take one side of the argument and persuade your audience that you have well-founded knowledge of the topic being presented. It is important to support your argument with evidence to ensure the validity of your claims, as well as to address the counterclaims to show that you are well informed about both sides.
Students will then have to provide a policy recommendation to address the issue that takes into account all aspects of the topic (i.e. criminological, legal, ethical, political etc.)

How to choose your Capstone Issue/Topic:
To take a side on a subject, the team should first establish the reasoning of why that topic interests them. Ask the following questions to ensure that the team will be able to present a strong argument:
• Is it a real issue, with genuine controversy and uncertainty?
• Can you distinctly identify two positions?
• Is the team interested in advocating one of these positions?
• Is the issue narrow enough to be manageable?
• Will the team be able to analyze this issue and develop a valid argument?
Once your topic is selected, you should do some research on the subject matter. While members of your team may already have an opinion on the topic and an idea about which side of the argument they want to take, the team must ensure that the paper is well supported. Listing out the pros and cons of the topic will help you examine your ability to support your counterclaims, along with a list of supporting evidence for both sides. Supporting evidence includes the following:
• Factual Knowledge – Information that is verifiable and agreed upon by almost everyone.
• Statistical Inferences – Interpretation and examples of an accumulation of facts.
• Informed Opinion – Opinion developed through research and/or expertise of the claim.
• Personal Testimony – Personal experience related by a knowledgeable party.
• Once you have made your pro and con lists, compare the information side by side. Considering your audience, as well as your own viewpoint, choose the position you will take.

Capstone Topics

Note: Below are optional topics that can be used for the capstone issue. If a student chooses to use their own topic outside of these available choices, the topic must be reviewed and approved by the professor.

Megan’s Law: Public safety or double jeopardy?

Illegal immigration: Human rights or national security?

Racial profiling: Effective police tool or Unnecessary harassment?

Solitary Confinement: Torture or Necessary Control?

Female criminality: Are women more intrinsically better than men?

Defending the guilty: How far should a defense go?

Plea-bargaining: Should we put a price tag on justice?

Rotting in prison: What do lengthy prison terms really accomplish?

Women in prison: Who care for the children?

Warehousing offenders: Is it the best way to spend taxpayers’ money?

Drug offenders: Do they really belong in prison?

The war on drugs: Political scam or public safety?

Gangs in America: Why are they so out of control?

Fourth Amendment rights: The impact after the Patriot Act.

Three Strikes: Does it work?

Restorative Justice: Is it a viable alternative

Innovative punishments: Is there a better choice?

Recidivism: The revolving door in American jails and prisons

Trying juveniles as adults: Is it a good idea?

Diminished capacity: Holding the offender responsible.

Elderly in prison: Are they still a threat on society?

Mandatory sentences and enhancements: Do they make sense?

Excessive force: Does it help or hinder the police?

PTSD and law enforcement: Is the price too high?

Post-Partum Psychosis: Mental illness or a defense tactic?

Rehabilitation: Does our society even try?

Prop. 36: Is it a free pass for bad behavior?

War on terrorism: Is it really a war on civil liberties?

Capital punishment: Cruel and unusual?

Domestic violence: How do we break the cycle?

DARE: Does it work or is it making the problem worse?

Double jeopardy: Is it really a constitutional right?

Federalism: Does it hinder crime control on a state level?

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