The first writing assignment allows the student to select a topic from any materials we covered in the first four units of the course. While we covered the first four chapters in the textbook, we also covered a great deal of information in class and during the weekly group work.
Select a topic or topics and create a persuasive writing assignment that will carry the reader from the start to the finish of your presentation. Go through the materials in the first half of the course and find one that is in the news, or has a personal impact on you and make it your own. In order to persuade the reader you will need to take a position, embrace it and then balance your arguments against those that are on the opposite side of the coin. Hone in on a particular subset of information where there is a healthy ongoing debate between the supporters and opponents. You should be able to articulate your arguments, identifying the key issues, and defend your position against the criticism of the opponents to your particular positions.
All papers should follow the guidelines in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th Ed.). Papers should be between 4 to 6 pages in length not including your references.
You should cover at least three big issues and within each section we should see:
A. Issue or legal rule at play
B. Definition of the issue, legal rule, law
D. Analysis – with illustrative examples
Possible Topics for Writing Assignment
This is not an all-inclusive list. This is just a list of what I found when I paged through the textbook. Feel free to be creative and drive your own research with something interesting and thought provoking.
· What behavior deserves punishment?
· Punishment and sentencing structures throughout history in US
· Current trends in philosophies of punishment – Sentencing reform at state and federal level
· Ex post facto laws – survey of applicable laws and cases
· Examples of Void for Vagueness through Rod Blagojevich case
· Equal Protection and the Bill of Rights – many sub-issues here
· Free Speech – current issues, trends and history
· Right to Privacy
· Right to Bear Arms
· The 8th Amendment
· NOT: The Death Penalty – juveniles, and mental disabilities – Do not write about the death penalty without express permission from me and approval of your outline first
· Race and Sentencing
· Right to Trial by Jury
· Abuse of Discretion by Judges
· Survey of Current cases on Actus Reus and analysis of …
· Status Offenses –
· Omissions and Good Samaritan Statutes
· Possession – understand the various definitions through cases and analysis
· Mere possession, actual possession, constructive possession, joint possession
· State of mind – mens rea
· Analysis of a particular state’s statutes and the various mental states through illustrative cases, articles and research
· General intent v. specific intent
· Criminal Transmission of HIV
· Analysis of Reckless v. Negligent – definitions, application, cases, analysis
· Causation – but for and legal causation
· Ignorance of the law – cases and analysis
· Intervening causes
· Superseding causes
· Proximate cause
· Defense of excuse
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