Criminal Law: Crime & justice in urban study

Scholars and social justice advocates have argued that NYPD’s use (or misuse) of broken windows policing created more problems than it solved in high-crime communities through aggressive policing and massive arrests of low-level offenders. Between 1980 and 2013, for example, there was a 190% increase in misdemeanor arrests. In 2017, City Council enacted the Criminal Justice Reform Act to address the problem of over-policing. Specifically, it decriminalized five offenses (public consumption of alcohol, public urination, unreasonable noise, littering, and all NYC Park offenses), requiring police to issue civil versus criminal summonses to violators. In a ten-page paper, discuss the success (or lack of success) of the Criminal Justice Reform Act. Your argument (thesis) must be based on published studies, newspaper articles, reports and the data you gathered from your visit to Criminal Court1


1). Introduction (one or two paragraphs) The introduction should introduce the reader to the topic and tell the reader why he/she should care about it or why it’s important. Then state your thesis, or the main point you will argue/prove in your paper. Essentially, the introduction tells the reader what you’re going to argue in your paper and why it’s important. As we discussed in class, you have three possible thesis statements: The CJA is succeeding in meeting its goals. The CJA is failing to meet its goals. The CJA is showing progress in meeting its goals but more work needs to be done. Be sure to state somewhere in the Introduction what the goals of the CJA are!

2).Background/Literature Review (approximately 1 to 2 pages) Here, you will present important background information about the subject. First, you will need to discuss the genesis of the CJA, in other words, why the City Council pushed for the CJA. Part of the reason is that they recognized the devastating effects of two decades of broken windows policing, and how it saddled thousands of young black and Hispanic men with criminal records through NYPD’s overreliance on stop and frisk as well as the overuse of criminal summonses once stop and frisk, as had been practiced by NYPD, was found to be unconstitutional. You will find information on NYPD’s overreliance on broken windows and stop and frisk as well as their impact on young men of color in journal articles in your course pack. The piece by Barrett and Welsh (2018) comes to mind. You will paraphrase all factual information and cite every sentence in your paper that contains a fact that is not common knowledge. For example: Broken windows policing has created a divide between the police and young men of color in high-crime communities (Barrett and Welsh, 2018).

3). Methodology (one or two paragraphs) Next, in a separate section called “Methodology,” describe the methods you used to gather the data for your paper. In this case, you used two methods: a site visit to Criminal Court and a review of the literature. Do not get into the specific findings here. Just discuss how you collected your data and where it comes from. 3). Findings: (about 2 to 3 pages) Here, you will present, analyze and discuss the findings that support your thesis. Keep in mind that your research question is whether or not the CJA is succeeding in accomplishing its goals. Therefore, make sure you restate what the goals of the act are. “Lightening the touch of the criminal justice system” is one goal. How is that measured? It’s measured by fewer summonses (civil or criminal) being issued, by summonses that previously would have been designated criminal and are now issued as civil, and by fewer warrants being issued. Your findings will come from your site visit to court, the evaluation study of the CJA in your course pack by John Jay’s Misdemeanor Project, the articles posted on BB, and any other sources of information you may find. You can use subheads to categorize each finding. Subheads might include: Fewer summonses, fewer criminal summonses, fewer warrants, etc.

4). Implications (about one page). Here, you will discuss the implications or the impact of your findings. Make sure to discuss the whole issue of returning to court. A major concern of critics of the new policy is that people simply won’t appear in court because they know a warrant won’t be issued. What does the data show about returning to court or answering to the civil summonses? 5). Policy Reform Recommendations (about one page). Here, present some steps that any component of the criminal justice system or government agency or legislative body can take to address any problems you identified.

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