This paper includes two parts:
1. A biography (1-2 pages) of a fictional person’s background and their subsequent involvement in criminal behavior. You may choose to address topics including, but not limited to, the person’s neighborhood, socioeconomic status, race, family structure, peer groups, physical environment, personality traits, goals, and anticipated costs and benefits of engaging in crime.
The story should function as an illustration of one of the theories. As you write it, keep in mind the major assumptions of the theory you choose, regarding what factors (social, individual, structural, environmental, etc.) lead a person toward crime. You do not have to explicitly state these theoretical assumptions within the biography, but instead make sure that the theory is reflected in the person’s decisions and actions. Be sure your facts and examples are specific enough to relate to the theory’s concepts.
2. A theoretical application section (1-2 pages) addressing the following (please write this in paragraph form, not in question/answer form): a. Describe the theory you chose. How does it account for the origins of criminal behavior? b. How does the theory you chose explain the main character’s behavior? c. Describe a specific policy change that could be made to ensure that people like the main character in your paper do not engage in crime.
3. You should also include a reference page listing all sources cited. (If you are describing a specific theory, you should be citing at minimum some of the materials assigned for the course, although you are welcome to use outside scholarly sources to support your arguments.) Please note that the reference page does not count toward the paper’s page length.
Papers should be written in 12 point font, Times New Roman, and double spaced.
In terms of grading, you will be assessed according to the following areas:
1. Biography: Ability to construct a storyline about an individual that exemplifies a theory of your choosing. 2. Description of Theory: Ability to provide specific detailed information explaining the theory’s assumptions. 3. Application of Theory: Ability to correctly explain how the theory you chose explains the behavior of the character in your biography. 4. Policy Recommendation: Ability to draft a policy change rooted in your chosen theory, which could prevent future offending of the type your character engaged in. 5. Writing Quality: Make sure to proofread your papers for spelling, grammar, phrasing, formatting, etc.
The theory you choose must be a specific theory, not a general category of criminological theories. For example, choosing “developmental theory” would not be appropriate, because this is a category that contains several theories; however, you could choose “Moffitt’s theory of adolescence-limited vs. life-course offending” from within that category. Similarly, you should not choose “environmental theory” but you could choose “routine activity theory” as a specific theory that falls under that area. Make sure you can explain exactly which theory you have chosen and which theorist(s) came up with it. Some examples of theories you might choose are listed below.
EXAMPLES OF THEORIES:
Deterrence theory (Beccaria, Stafford & Warr) Rational choice theory (Cornish & Clarke) Biosocial and trait theories* (if you choose this one, you should find literature that is more specific than the general overview we covered in class) Differential association theory (Sutherland & Cressey) Social learning theory (Akers) Social disorganization theory Classic strain theory (Merton) General strain theory (Agnew) Developmental theory of adolescence-limited vs. life-course-persistent offending (Moffitt)
The Term Paper is not a policy paper. It is a term paper based on a statute. You may pick any topic that we covered, which has included a number of policies, but the crux of the paper must be based on a law, on a statute.
To assist you in the initial steps, it is recommended that you look at LexisNexis, use the general search, and then narrow down the results by Statutes and Legislation. Usually, Lexis provides a Legislative history of each statute, where you will be able to access bills, debates, committee minutes, and so on. This additional content may provide you with the rationale provided by the lawmakers and any criminological theories they used in deciding how to craft the statute.
Also, remember that this is a five-page mini-research and position paper. And note, the syllabus is very specific that Legislative History should be used to support your findings. However, minimally you must have Legislative History.
I left the topic of the paper up to the writer because he/she must choose a theory (from the examples of theories section above) and a New York State law for this paper. The writer may choose any theory from the examples above and any New York State law that can be applied to that theory.
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