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Criminal Justice Essay Writing Guide

Criminal Justice is an academic discipline that is very interesting for many learners across the world.  Enrollment in the field of criminal justice studies has significantly been increasing over the past years. More students are evidently finding interest in studying crime. One of the most important activities students learn in the course of their criminal justice program is essay writing.  The criminal justice course is focused on developing an all-around individual who has both practical and theoretical skills to combat crime and bring justice. However, you cannot attain this objective if you are not armed with effective essay writing skills. Proficiency in essay writing helps criminal justice students to develop effective reports in police, corrections, parole, probation, and social work services.

Good reporting, communication and documentation are also necessary in creating case notes, miscellaneous court documents, victim advocate reports, press releases, op-ed essays, grant applications and others.  Essay writing is the cornerstone of contemporary practice in the field of criminology.

Writing a criminal justice essay may be very hectic for students. Most students often prefer a one-sided learning method. This involves acquiring concepts from the instructors but not reproducing the learned information through writing. This is an easy way of learning. However, it is not possible for the instructor to assess the extent to which the learning has influenced the students. Writing a criminal justice essay can be fun if different considerations and tips are put in place. The first aspect of the topic they are expected to write about. Besides proficiency in writing and the skills in written communication, the instructor is also testing relevance or adherence to the subject matter.

How to Choose a Topic for an Essay in Criminal Justice

Criminal justice is a wide discipline with a broad range of topics.  Depending on the area of focus, you are expected to select the most suitable topic that addresses the objectives they have. First, it is important to point out that instructors can present questions that they require the students to discuss. You may be expected to choose their own topics in some cases. The most important thing is to understand what the instructor needs and fine-tune your writing in a way that meets the objectives. In case the topic is not given, you should consider the following issues before they begin writing their essay:

  • Tune to the History Channel: It is important to explore the historical aspect of the criminal justice issue one wants to write about before commencing. Taking a past case and critically examining it might do the trick. A good essay writer does not go “blind.” You must create a strong starting point. The historical cases might present an intriguing way of developing the topic for the essay.
  • Research, do not just google: The easy way out is to connect to the internet and google. This might not work out for you in criminal justice essays. It is important to take time and research crime stories, cases, even biographies. This activity provides an important insight into the criminal justice world.
  • Stay Factual: Criminal justice and law are closely related in the sense that they all deal with facts. Any small error can lead to a huge impact. It is important to stick to facts even when developing topics. It is advisable that one plays the lawyer when reviewing the cases and stories. Consider both sides of the story and draw an informed conclusion. In addition, one should try to be fair to the reader by presenting both sides of the story in the topic.
  • Topic Breakdown: An essay topic should be designed in a way that grabs the attention of the reader. This can be down by breaking down the topic into subheadings and points. Crime is an emotional subject that triggers the feelings of the readers. It is important to keep a patterned connection between the reader’s feelings and the criminal issue.
  • Relevance: A topic that one chooses should be current and top-of-mind. It should attempt to address a problem that is experienced in the contemporary society.
    Some of the relevant topics one can discuss in a criminology paper include:

    1. Police brutality
    2. Racial profiling in the criminal justice system
    3. The death penalty
    4. Extradition of criminals
    5. Impeachment

It is up to you to understand the instruction requirements and appropriately choose the topic that is most suitable. Once you have chosen a good topic, you should proceed to the pre-writing preparation stage.

Pre-Writing Tips

Even with a clear prompt and a grasp of a sea of ideas, writing an essay can be very challenging. Before you begin to write a criminal justice essay, it is important that you consider the following issues:

Review the allocated time: Every essay comes with specific instructions including the amount of time allocated. Some instructors may allocate weeks or even months for relatively small essays. Others may instruct that the essays are written and submitted the same day. It is important to evaluate the allocated time and no exactly the level of urgency. This will help plan the proceeding steps. For instance, a two-page essay that is needed in two weeks gives enough time for thorough research, drafting and proofreading.

CAUTION!  Long deadlines should not translate to laziness. Rather, they should help in ensuring thoroughness.

  • Brainstorming: This technique involves randomly noting down the ideas as they come. While brainstorming, one should understand that there is no such thing as “bad idea. Everything that comes to the mind should be noted down. Writing in the brainstorming stage does not have to be formal. The primary objective in this activity is to develop a wider perspective on the topic.

Example:  While brainstorming on death penalty, the following ideas can cross the mind: human rights, the aim of punishment, justice to the victims, ethical implications, and religion among others.

Tired of all the guides and never-ending instructions?
  • Free-writing: Although it is related to brainstorming, free writing uses formal sentences as opposed to creating a list of ideas. However, you should not be worried about writing mechanics such as punctuation, grammar and the like. The aim is to note down ideas as they come in sentences. In addition, it is important to avoid censoring ideas. You should write freely and openly. The image shown in Criminal Justice Essay (1) illustrates the aspects of free-writing:

Example: Free-writing on the death penalty: I believe no one, not even the state should be granted the right to take another person’s life. I also think killing criminals implies the government would be destroying the only evidence that “crime does not pay”. How will children learn that criminals suffer?

  • Mind-Mapping: Just like free-writing and brainstorming, mind-mapping involves taking an inventory of ideas that relate to the chosen topic. However, this strategy involves developing a central word and generating “sub-words” from it (Elbow, 2008). The ideas are developed in a manner that answer the central question in the topic as shown in Criminal Justice Essay (2)
  • Asking Questions: It is possible that all the strategies listed above may not work for some students especially if they do not have any idea about the topic. When confronted with such a case, a solution can be found through question-asking technique. This involves asking questions that relate to the topic in order to gain an insight. You should endeavor to contemplate answers to the questions that you ask. The trick is to have as many questions as possible to help you get started (Baroudy, 2008). You generate many ideas and thoughts on the topic through asking questions.

Example: How does death penalty relates to my studies? Why would the government execute its own citizens? Isn’t death penalty an ethical/ moral issue?

Exploration of Terminologies and Concepts in Criminal Justice

Writing a criminal justice essay paper may be significantly different from any other essay writing. The terms and concepts used may have different meanings in the common language. It is important to consider the common concepts and terms before you begin writing. Some of the common concepts and terminologies you will encounter include:

Crime: An action or omission that violates the penal code. It is punishable by fine or imprisonment or sanction.

Criminal intent: A provable motivates to violate the law.

Felony: A serious crime that is punishable by over one-year imprisonment (Roberts, 2018).

Evidence: A legal proof or omission or action.

Crime scene:  An environment where a crime is suspected to have occurred.

It is important to note that these are just but a few of the many terms used in criminal justice essays. The student should take time and explore some of those that apply to their essays.

The Ultimate Writing of a Criminal Justice Paper

After you have collected all, the necessary information from diverse databases, one should begin writing. The first step involves developing a format ad an outline. You may have the information but your essay will be meaningless if the ideas are not properly arranged.  A criminal justice essay paper uses the same structure as in other disciplines. It begins with the introduction, proceeds to the body and ends at the conclusion.

Introduction

This is the part where you explore the topic in a rather general fashion. You present background information on the problem, its prevalence and the impact it has created on the selected population. As previously indicated, some criminal justice essays may require students to argue and counter argue on given topic. Regardless of the topic, a criminal justice essay must begin with the introduction. You should attempt to let the reader understand the issue you are arguing about by providing a brief overview. You do not want to spend half of your paper explaining to the reader about the topic. To avoid such, be concise and relevant. Do not gather and present a lot of unnecessary information that add no value to the paper. Create a positive impression in the introduction.

Tip: Make it concise and relevant!

Main Body

This is the heart of the paper. It is what earns you points. You would want to showcase your ingenuity, positive writing skills and extensive understanding of the topic in this part. The first consideration that one must make relates to paragraphing. As previously stated, it is pointless to spend time gathering ideas only to aimlessly throw them on the paper. You must organize your ideas in a way that allows for fluency and coherence.

The paragraphs you choose for your criminal justice essay should be between 100 and 150 words. This allows the reader to follow the ideas you are putting across. Students are often tempted to write extremely large paragraphs to justify they have mastered the content or concept. The positive gesture much appreciated. However, it may bring more harm than good to your paper. The readers may get lost along the way trying to understand your ideas. If you want to write a good essay, avoid the temptation of long paragraphs and lengthy sentences. You should also not forget to begin each paragraph with the topic sentence. It is the main idea that you intend to support through different arguments.

Moreover, “equality before the law” applies in every criminal justice paper. Try to present both sides of the argument in the main body. It is advisable that you consider arguments and counterarguments when compiling your information for a criminal justice system. For instance, when arguing about the death penalty, do not restrict yourself to the perspectives that support it. Also, present the arguments of those who oppose the policy. This creates the impression that you are an objective law-enforcer.

Tip: Let the Main Body Speak for You!

Conclusion

This is the part where you summarize the contents you have written from the introduction to the main body. Recap on the main ideas and state your position on the topic. You need to restate the thesis and explain if it is justified.

When You are Done Writing: Criminal Justice Essay Tips from Our Writers

When you are done writing, proofread! Read over and over again to ascertain that the ideas you intended to put on the paper are exactly as you desired. You may put your essay paper away for a moment after you are done writing and grab a cup of coffee before you begin proofreading. The intention is to refresh your mind. Some of the proofreading techniques you may use include:

  • Keep the work away for some time until your mind refreshes. The time you take for this activity depends on the deadline;
  • Subdivide the proofreading sessions. You may go through the introduction part in the morning and the body in the evening;
  • You may ask a third party to review your paper to check if it is error-free.