CJ 305 San Diego State Univer

Each student will write a final course paper on a criminal justice topic of her/his choosing. Ideally, the topic will be a topic discussed either in class or in a part of the reading materials assigned as part of the course reading requirements. A topic that has not been discussed or assigned as part of the reading may also be a suitable final paper topic, and please check with me prior to beginning your research on a topic that was not covered during the course. Here is a sampling of topics, which you may consider researching and writing a final course paper:

  • Police discretion
  • The militarization of policing
  • Police corruption
  • Policing and racial bias
  • Police use of force
  • Institutional racism in the criminal justice system
  • Why is our legal system adversarial
  • Professional ethics for attorneys
  • Criminal defense attorney’s obligations to clients
  • Prosecutorial misconduct
  • The ethics of elected judges
  • The ethics of maximum security prisons
  • The ethics of solitary confinement
  • Correctional officer discretion
  • Correctional office discretion
  • The ethics of parole/probation supervision
  • The ethics of private prisons
  • The death penalty
  • The ethics of the war on drugs
  • The ethics of the war on terror
  • Mandatory minimum sentencing
  • The “criminalization” of immigration
  • The ethical considerations for reporting crime by the media

Each student has wide latitude in writing this final paper as well as the approach used to research and write on the ethical issues of a particular topic. The final paper should be 5 to 7 type written pages (does not include title page/bibliography/etc). Please use Times Roman 12 point font, and double-space with standard margins when writing the final paper. The final paper is an academic paper, which means that your writing should include multiple sources, and sources should be cited as appropriate in your work. Please include a bibliography that includes

Final Paper Outline (Sample)

Overview and history of the topic (1 to 2 pages)

The main ethical issues of the topic (2 pages)

Choose one ethical theory to apply/discuss in regards to your selected topic (1 page)

  • Ethical theories include Duty and Principle (Kant), Consequentialism/Utilitarianism, Virtue Theory, Stoicism, Hedonism, Ethical Egoism

Personal ethical reflection on the topic i.e. where do you stand ethically on the topic (1 page)

Conclusion (1 page)

Total = 5 to 7 pages

Guiding Questions

The following is a list of guiding questions as you begin to research and write your final paper:

  • What is the history of the topic?
  • What are the main ethical issues regarding the topic?
  • What are the current societal views on the topic i.e. the prevailing views?
  • Is the topic of concern to the media at this time?
  • What ethical theory is most applicable to understanding or evaluating the topic?
  • Do governmental policies provide support or non-support for the topic?
  • Who are the main stakeholders that are involved in the topic?
  • What are your personal views on the topic? Your own ethical framework of the topic?
  • What value matters the most in the topic? E.g. The sanctity of life for the death penalty.

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