For your capstone research paper, you will write a 10- to 15-page research paper on one of the topics approved by your instructor. The purpose of the paper is to provide the reader with a synopsis of a problem or critical issue in US crime, what we know about the pre-existing policies that are causing or contributing to one of the problems or issues, and what alternative policy options are recommended. For more details about the project, read carefully page 19 (Unit 1) in the book Write and Wrong: Writing within Criminal Justice by Caroline W. Ferree and Heather L. Pfeifer.
To begin, you will need to locate a problem or critical issue related to US crime control. Next you should select a policy-oriented research topic that you know or discover is causing the problem or issue. Possible research topics can include, but are not limited to, the following:
Crime prevention policy targeting delinquency, gun violence, or a particular type of offense or offender.
Police policy, for example policies to effectively manage high-risk communities, community-police relations, or Stop, Question and Frisk.
Drug policy or The War on Drugs.
Policies generated to prevent, intervene, and suppress gangs.
Policies related to the issue of mentally ill inmates and offenders.
Sentencing policy and/or prosecution policy.
Juvenile justice policy.
Corrections policy (for example, correctional interventions).
All information contained in the paper must come from academic sources unless your instructor tells you otherwise. In addition, you should not rely on your own knowledge about the topic. Moreover, you must use a minimum of 10 academic sources when writing your paper. Your paper must be written in APA format and must include citations written in APA format. Failure to include citations constitutes plagiarism. Your paper must include a title page as well as a reference page. Points will be deducted from papers that do not meet the page requirement or that do not incorporate eight academic sources.
The Structural Elements of the Capstone Research Report
Policy reports directly reflect the different roles that the policy analyst commonly plays, i.e. from researcher to advocate. The type of report that you are writing is one from the more action-oriented, advocacy end of the continuum (but that is nevertheless based purely on evidence and not your opinion). Although there is much variation even at this end of the scale, the most common elements of the policy brief are as follows:
Title of the Policy Report
Context and Importance of the Problem (also called the Introduction)
Pre-existing Policies, Policy Options, and Research