Juvenile Delinquency (SOC 351)
Guidelines for Analytical Paper Regarding the Documentary “When Kids Get Life”
The PBS’s Frontline video “When Kids Get Life” explores a number of contemporary issues regarding the juvenile justice system, and specifically the phenomenon of juvenile offenders being transferred to adult/ criminal court (i.e., wavier to adult court) and life imprisonment. Set in Colorado, the video profiles the cases of five juveniles sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. It explores whether juveniles should receive sentences that, in effect, end any possibility of life outside of prison. The video makes the point that the U.S. is one of the only countries in the world that allows persons under the age of eighteen to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. According to Human Rights Watch (2014), over 2,200 of the inmates in the U.S. who are serving life sentences without the possibility of parole received those sentences for crimes they committed when they were under 18 years old.
For this assignment, you need to write a paper that analytically reviews this video using information acquired from the required readings, guiding questions, class lectures, class discussions, and in-class activities. Your review should be approximately three double-spaced, typewritten pages. It needs to be in ASA format (the ASA Style Guide is available via Blackboard.)
Here are a few additional requirements regarding the format of your paper:
• Introduction (1 paragraph), Body (6-8 paragraphs), and Conclusion (1 paragraph). Paragraphs should be 5-8 sentences long.
• Reference Section. At the end of your paper you need a list of all your references/sources in alphabetical order and in ASA format.
• Format: Typed, Double-Spaced, Times New Roman, 12-Point Font, with 1 or 1¼ Inch Margins. Total paper length should be approximately 3 pages. The pages need to be numbered and you should not have exaggerated headers.
Bad spelling and poor grammar makes a paper difficult to read and understand and also severely weakens a paper overall. Use complete sentences (not fragments) and proof read your paper (rather than relying solely on your computer’s spell check function). Make sure you have complete and grammatically correct sentences. Moreover, make sure your paper is cohesive and concise. A clear, well-written paper is better than stringing together a lot of unrelated sentences and information.
The purpose of this paper is to encourage development of your writing and analytical skills. A good paper is one that goes beyond merely describing what occurs on the video. The assignment is not for you to merely describe the video’s content. Rather, a well-written, analytical paper examines the content of the video in relation to issues discussed in the course readings and class lectures. It is also one that is cogently argued and free of grammatical and spelling errors. Below are guidelines that I hope will assist you in writing a good paper.
Construct an Argument: Use the first paragraph of your paper as an introduction to recount the overall theme of the video. What is the primary issue that the video addresses within the broad field of the juvenile delinquency and, more specifically, the juvenile justice system and the waiver of juveniles to adult/criminal court. The majority of your paper should critically and analytically assess what you believe is/are the major point/s of the video. You may not agree with what a video presents, but you must provide reasons for your disagreement. For example, if the film suggests that there is a need to protect youth from the cruel and unusual punishment of a life sentence without the possibility of parole, ask yourself if you agree or disagree with this position. In either case, support your position with research, data, empirical evidence, etc., from the readings and other course material.
As part of this assignment, you must utilize and reference key concepts, themes, data, and/or theories from the textbook, specifically information from chapter eleven. This chapter explores the differential treatment of juveniles and adults in the criminal justice system. For instance, the authors describe a number of important legal cases related to juvenile delinquency in the 2000s that have essentially reasserted youth differences. Moreover, chapter twelve explores the process by which it is decided whether a juvenile will be handled in the juvenile justice system or the adult justice system. You may what to consider the “In the News” excerpt on page 296 and “A Focus on Research” on page 300 of the textbook. When using direct quotes from the textbook and/or other sources, be sure to cite them (failure to do so constitutes plagiarism!). Again, material from the readings should be integrated into the analysis presented in your paper.
Do not leave your reader (in this case, me) hanging at the end of your paper. Make sure you have a conclusion. In the concluding paragraph, briefly summarize the important points of your paper. Give your reader (i.e., me) a succinct evaluation of what you thought of the video’s major point.
Grading: You are encouraged to be creative, but focused. Papers will be graded on clarity, how well you support your statements and positions with material from the course readings, lectures and discussions, and how well you have synthesized the video and course material. This assignment is worth 10% of your final grade in the course. As stated in your course syllabus, I will not accept and/or grade any late assignments. Assignments are due by the beginning of class on Tuesday, November 17th (Submitted via CANVAS assignments). I highly recommend turning your assignment in prior to this date in order to avoid any unforeseen issues with regard to getting your papers to me on this date. Again, no late papers will be accepted. And remember, academic dishonesty, such as plagiarism, may be grounds for university dismissal.
Companion Website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/whenkidsgetlife/
The companion website for the documentary features a state-by-state map showing statistics on juveniles sentenced to life without parole, profiles of the inmates featured in the documentary, extended interviews with legal experts, a conversation with the filmmaker, and more.
Additional Resources (You may want to consider these sites when writing your paper):
http://www.actforyouth.net/documents/may02factsheetadolbraindev.pdf (On Blackboard)
http://www.ncjj.org/stateprofiles/ (On Blackboard)
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