Theoretical perspectives

Your paper should be between 4½ and 5 pages typed, double spaced, using a convention 12-point font with one inch margins on all sides.  Deviation from this format will result in a loss of points.

Spelling and grammar always count.  Papers will be graded on both content and the quality of writing.  This paper will be due on Friday November 11 by midnight.  Submit papers to the dropbox on Blackboard.

Your paper should draw connections between the agency’s mission, purpose, and function and criminological theory.
Criminological theory is, broadly speaking, an attempt to explain the existence of crime in society.  Once the causes of crime are identified, specific actions (crime control policy) can be taken by social control agents to control and reduce criminal behavior.  For example, rational choice theory suggests that people are rational decision makers.  According to the theory, people make decisions based on what they believe to be in their own best interests.  If a specific action furthers an individual’s interests (makes them money for example), then they will engage in that behavior unless that behavior also has costs.  If the costs of an action outweigh the gains, people will predictably choose a different action. Punishment is one way to make criminal behavior more “costly,” and the goal, if one seeks to control crime, is to make sure people who engage in crime experience greater costs for those criminal acts than they do benefits.

There are many other theoretical perspectives besides rational choice or deterrence theory that you can use for this paper.  You should all have taken CRJ 2153 as a pre-req for this class, or have had an equivalent class if you transferred from another school, and so you should be very familiar with several different theoretical frameworks.
Your purpose for this paper is to demonstrate how the actions of your agency (public policy) are based on a theoretical orientation.  In other words, how is the public crime control policy executed by your agency based on theory?  What is that theory?  What are the policy implications of that theory?  How closely does the policy enacted and carried out by your agency fit with the policy implications of the theory?
Here are some of the theoretical orientations you can use:
Rational choice/deterrence theory

Learning theory/differential association

Control/social bond theory

Labeling theory

Strain theory

Social disorganization theory

Biosocial/trait theory

Conflict/radical theory (may require a slightly different approach to the paper, which I will allow)

You may use a different theoretical orientation if you get my approval first.

This paper should have two sections.  First, you need to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the theory that you choose to discuss.  For this section of the paper, please cite your sources using APA style.  You only need one academic source regarding the theory you choose, but it must be an academic and scholarly source.  You may use more than one source if you need to.  Peer reviewed academic journals are an excellent source.  While textbooks are usually not allowed as sources for research papers, for this paper, I will allow them.  I have several excellent textbooks in my office I will allow you to borrow for a few minutes to copy, if you feel like coming by my office.  You are not allowed to use encyclopedias (internet or otherwise) other internet sources, such as Wikipedia or blogs, or other popular media sites.  In other words, use an approved academic and scholarly source.  Remember that the actions of your agency are based on this theory, so describe the elements of the theory that will support the rest of your paper. Whatever sources you use, I want you to submit a copy of those sources along with your paper.

The second part of your paper should draw connections between your chosen theory and the mission of your agency, and how it goes about fulfilling that mission.  Draw as many connections as you can.  Be as specific, precise, and concrete as possible.  For example, if you are using deterrence theory in regards to traffic patrol by a law enforcement agency, you would point out that traffic patrol units drive marked cars.  When drivers see a marked police car, they drive slower and are more careful to come to a complete stop at stop signs, suggesting that they are making a choice to follow the law in order to avoid getting a costly ticket.  If you are interning with a correctional rehabilitation program, you might discuss how the treatment program is attempting to teach offenders new behaviors, which would be a way to use learning theory.  The more connections you can make between the theory and the policies of your agency, the stronger your paper will be.

If your agency devises policy without any understanding or explanation of the causes of crime, then please describe the logic behind the crime control policies they implement.


Writing Assignment #2


The second assignmnet is one page research in any psychology topic.

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