Criminology Essay

“The Fixer” Papers
Becoming the Next Mayor of Pawnee by
Solving the Big Problem
Exciting news! You are currently running for the Mayor of Pawnee, and
you and your opponent (Ron Swanson) are neck and neck! To pull
ahead, you really need Pawnee’s Criminal Justice Board of Directors to
endorse you.
The CJ Board of Directors consists of the Chief of Police, the Warden of
the state prison, and the Presiding Judge for the City. So far, the
members of the Board haven’t been able to come to any agreement
about which candidate they plan to endorse. So, they’ve asked you each
to come up with a proposal to identify the biggest problem Pawnee’s
Criminal Justice System is facing, explain that problem, inform them of
how you would solve that problem, and then lastly, how you would
evaluate whether your solution to that problem is working.

Paper Outline
The full paper should follow APA format & be at least 3500
words. Each section has a recommended # of words; however,
as long as your full paper is 3500 words of your own writing,
that is fine!
Part I: The Problem(s) (750 or more words) (>750 words)
• Identify and Explain the problems that Pawnee is facing within its police force
(for paper 2, change this to courts; for paper 3, change this to
prisons/jails/correctional system). This is 100% fictional, and you should have
some fun with this!
• The problem(s) identified should be grounded in real problems. For example, you
cannot say that a problem the PPD is facing is that they have hired too many
zombies who are eating citizens. This should be a problem that has occurred (and
there are records of it occurring). For example, perhaps public trust in the police is
at an all-time low due to a few high-profile cases of excessive force, on top of
officers’ exercising speech that may be discriminatory in nature. Or, perhaps
crime is at an all-time high within a few select areas of Pawnee; however,
traditional forms of policing seem to be having no effect in these areas.
• Give a lot of detail here—think about how long it has been a problem, how
pervasive it is, etc.
• You can identify one to three problems—it is up to you. There is no correct
number here; it is just dependent on how specific or big the problems are.
Generally, I recommend sticking with one big problem and identifying themes
within that problem (for instance, race relations: racial profiling, police-citizen
encounters, and use of force).
• Explain why this problem matters—think about what motivates people in
politics/government to make changes (morality is not typically the #1 motivator,
Part II: Background (Literature Review & Theoretical Foundation)
(>1250 words)
• In order to understand a problem and solutions to the problem, you will need to provide
theoretical foundation and a review of past studies that have examined similar issues. For
this, you will need to cite at least five peer-reviewed journal articles. (Need help here?
See the video on Finding Peer-Reviewed Sources, located in “The Fixer” module).
▪ Past Literature
• How did the researchers of the study define and explain the
• What was the main purpose of the study? (Hint: Look at the
introduction and the abstract to figure out the primary goal of the
• Did they use a theory to explain the problem? What theory?
• Within their actual study, how were the data gathered? How were
the concepts operationalized from the research questions? How
were the variables of interest measured? How were the data
• What were the findings of the study? (Look at the results and
discussion section)
• What sort of solutions do they provide to the problem? For
instance, if they were looking at the effects of prison overcrowding
on inmate victimization, they will likely provide some future
research and policy implications in the last section (the discussion).
Look here to help find potential solutions to the problem you’ve
Theoretical Foundation
• You need to identify a theory that helps to explain either the presence of your problem or
to justify your proposed solution to the problem.
• You can use either criminological theory (explaining crime and criminality) or criminal
justice theory (explaining the CJ system, enforcement, punishment, and/or prevention of
• For instance, if you were looking at police-citizen encounters, you might look at defiance
theory (criminological theory). The articles you select will likely have some sort of
theoretical foundation. If they do not—you probably want to look for some that do!
• If you need a refresher on theory, look at the theory notes provided in the “Refresher
Part III: The Solution (>750 words)
• Describe your proposed solution in four parts: needs, approach, administration, and
• Needs: In this part, readdress the problem and explain why is should be a priority
• Make sure to make a case for why this problem must be fixed
• Approach: Describe the solution/project/program. Discuss the overall idea, and then
specify its elements and how it would be implemented. For instance, if you are trying to
address prison overcrowding, do not just say “we will get more room for inmates.” That
certainly is not detailed, and it has no longevity as a solution. Dig deep here—remember,
you are trying to get a job with this proposal!
• Administration: Within implementation, remember that you will be the administrator of
this organization. Discuss how you would get employees on board, and how work would
be distributed. Think about leadership, management, and organization theories here.
• Outcome: What do you think the outcome of your solution will be? Provide detail here
regarding specific outcomes and benefits (both direct and indirect)
• Part IV: Evaluation (>750 words)
How will you assess the effectiveness of your solution?
Evaluation Questions
• List 1-3 questions that will guide your evaluation. These are your research questions that
should be guided by whether your solution is working.
Evaluation Design
• Your design should be mixed-method (include quantitative (e.g., closed-ended survey)
and qualitative components (interviews, observations, etc.). This should be VERY
detailed—someone should be able to read this section and replicate your study.
Data Sources
• Describe your sources of data (for instance, if you were evaluating whether an increase in
speeding tickets had an effect on the speeding problem, your data source would probably
be vehicles’ speeds before and after the program was implemented. (This is an example
of quantitative data).
o You could also conduct interviews with drivers to see if they have noticed increases in
speeding tickets (qualitative data collection)
• For each data source Identify and define your population, your sample, your sample size,
and your sampling technique
Collection Methods and Administration Procedures
• Describe your plan of action in a systematic fashion. How do you plan to collect your
data? Identify each step prior to actual analysis of the data. Describe step-by-step how
you will conduct your evaluation. How will you obtain access to your population? How
will you obtain permission to access the population? This should be incredibly detailed,
to the point that someone could replicate your study by following your procedure.
Analytic Plan
• How will you analyze your data? What will your data tell you?
• Are there specific statistical tests you should use? Which ones? (If you need some help
here, check out the statistics notes in the Refresher Module—Also, this should be
attempted, but does not need to be perfected).