Capstone Research Paper

You are tasked with offering science-based principles to guide decision-making in the criminal justice system to forge a better path forward.
To begin, locate a specific problem that is related to one of the chapters in Jacinta Gau’s Book ‘Criminal Justice Policy: Origins and Consequences’ that you wish to explore in-depth.
Next, gather research findings from science journals, books, and reputable research institutes and use what you learn to understand the problem, its causes, and alternative policy solutions.
Lastly, use the research and scientific evidence to advise policymakers on criminal justice policy decisions in the area that you have decided to investigate.

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 report are as follows (**Your Capstone Research Paper must include all seven headings**):

Title Page
Executive Summary
Context and the Importance of the Problem
Pre-Exiting Policies, Policy Alternatives, and Research
Policy Recommendations

Requirements and Overview of the Research Paper
Your capstone research paper will be written as a policy report.
– It must be between 3,000 words and 3,500 words minimum (not including the title page or references).
-Your research paper/policy report needs to be double-spaced with 1.0-inch margins and using a 12-point Times New Roman font.
-Your policy report must be based entirely on published research (and not your opinion or non-scholarly opinions).

For this project, you will examine policies through a critical, social-scientific, empirical lens, and producing an action-oriented policy report targeting policymakers and agency executives (e.g., chiefs of police). It will serve the purpose of informing policymakers and agency executives on what they can do to improve on what scholars and many people in communities of color call the ‘criminal injustice system.’ Thus, your policy report will include several in-text cites referencing journal articles, books, book chapters, and reports from reputable agencies such as the Vera Institute, the Prison Policy Initiative, the Sentencing Project, and government agencies, such as the Department of Justice.

To illustrate how you might proceed: Existing drug policy still adheres to the tenets of the “war on drugs” and, as such, is more oriented toward enforcement than toward prevention and treatment. Enforcement-based strategies are, by themselves, limited in their overall effectiveness. Drug courts have become significant players in the fight against drugs, but enforcement remains the focal point of policy efforts. Racial disparities in prison populations have been attributed to the war on drugs and accompanying determinant sentencing structures. Yet, policymakers have been reluctant to alter sentencing schemes or legislation that flatly prohibits the sale, possession, and use of drugs. If this were your focus (or topic of investigation), you would review the evidence about the effectiveness of enforcement-based and treatment-based efforts, as well as the relative cost-effectiveness of each, and recommend to a policymaking audience what strategies, practices, and programs should be adopted. As a final note, you need to view “effectiveness” in broad terms that include issues of justice, fairness, and what are known as “collateral consequences,” and not just in terms of reducing or preventing crime.