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In the final paper for the course, you will write an essay that demonstrates both your critical thinking skills, and your understanding of (at least) one theoretical perspective.
By the end of the semester, we will have explored a variety of theories that seek to explain the onset and continuation (or desistance) of criminal behavior. You will have learned that none of these perspectives can explain crime in every situation, and, therefore, that there is no one “ideal” theory to explain crime. Each of these approaches comes with their own policy implications and suggestions for how to reduce crime and deal with offenders to reduce future criminality.
In a formal essay (with a title page, introduction, body, conclusion, and references), you will use a case study provided by the instructor (which varies each semester and may vary from instructor to instructor) to discuss what you believe is the “best” theoretical approach to explain the crimes engaged in by the offender in the case study. Each approach comes with its own policy implications and suggestions for how to reduce crime and deal with offenders to reduce future criminality. You should pick a best approach, but, since crime is complex and no single approach explains everything, you can also mention other perspectives or compare and contrast those perspectives to explain the crime, as well as you can focus on one perspective but also explain why you think other factors may also be playing a role (e.g., if you think that the crime is largely resulting from psychological factors, but you also think these psychological factors have been affected by social experiences, or you may think that crime is genetically inherited and and may have never been activated had people not had these experiences – you could say that it’s mostly a psychological issue, but that biology and environment also matter, then you would explain this and why you think this).
Note that in each section of JUST 101, the assignment will be graded using a Speedgrader rubric. The theoretical application essay (combined with other writing assignments for the course) meets or exceeds the recommended 2000 word writing requirement of a General Education course.
This section of the course will utilize the case study of “RED THE MARTYR” (a sex offender) to examine what you believe to be the “best” theoretical approach to explain the crimes engaged in by the offender in the article, or the “best” approach and other approaches that you think make sense.
You must demonstrate that you have read the article in its entirety and that you understand your theory. The use of examples will help you accomplish this task.
Your paper should do the following:
Elaborate/summarize the main tenets/points of the theoretical perspective you have chosen (rational choice theory, trait theory, social structure theory, social process theory, developmental theory, conflict theory, strain theory, etc.- you can choose whatever theory you like)
Discuss the criminal behaviors in the article
Explain why the theory you have chosen provides the best explanation for criminal behaviors in the case study – i.e., explain the crime in light of theory
From a policy perspective, discuss at least TWO ways in which this type of criminality might be deterred (these recommendations should be consistent with the theoretical approach you have chosen)
To be clear: in your paper you are to use only ONE theory to explain the offense elaborated in the case study. For example, ONE specific branch of biological theory . . . do NOT explain how each branch of biological theory could explain the case study. However, again, you can come at this from multiple perspectives – I just don’t want you saying that something is a result of biology then explaining every biological perspective covered in the book.
Your essay must be 1,500 – 2,000 words in length (approximately 5-8 pages double spaced) , double spaced, in Times New Roman 12-point font, using one-inch margins, and appropriate citations included using the ASA or APA citation style.
You will turn in an extended outline draft of your essay earlier in the semester, and I will provide you with limited comments and suggestions. If you wish to turn in a full draft for the outline assignment, then I will provide more extensive feedback, and if you send me a full draft at least two full weeks before the paper is due, I will also review the draft.
Red the Martyr Case study citation information:
Schultz, P. D. (2005). Not monsters: Analyzing the stories of child molesters. Rowman & Littlefield.