Criminal Justice Essay Topics

Instructor: Ashley Dugger

Ashley has a JD degree and is an attorney. She has extensive experience as a prosecutor and legal writer, and she has taught and written various law courses.

Many criminal justice classes require students to submit an essay. Instructors can help students choose an interesting topic. This lesson provides essay topic ideas related to the study of criminal justice.

Criminal Justice Courses

There are many different types of criminal justice courses, but nearly all will require your students to submit a research paper. Criminal justice courses are designed to hone students' skills in particular areas, including:

  • Investigating
  • Evaluating
  • Analyzing
  • Interpreting

The research paper is an important tool, because these same skills are practiced throughout the process. Students are asked to gather data, scrutinize the information, and present their findings in an organized manner. This type of paper is generally known as an analytical research paper.

Sometimes students are also asked to persuade the audience to accept a particular stance. This type of paper is generally known as an argumentative research paper and requires the student to start with a thesis statement. A thesis statement is a topic that reflects an opinion or judgment. The topic should be debatable, so the paper can be written to either prove or disprove the thesis statement. For example, ''The death penalty does not deter violent crime.''

No matter which type of research paper you assign, the students' first step is picking an interesting topic. As an instructor, you can assist students with this task. Let's take a look at several essay topic ideas related to the study of criminal justice.

Criminology Topics

Many criminal justice courses focus on criminology. Criminology is a type of sociology. It is the scientific study of crime, often including the causes of crime and the social impacts of crime.

Here are a few topic suggestions for criminology research papers:

  • Is criminal behavior sometimes hereditary?
  • Are rehabilitation programs effective for violent criminals?
  • How do crime statistics affect the enactment of new criminal laws?
  • How has the definition of ''crime'' evolved over time, and what type of acts used to be criminal but are now legal?
  • How does poverty affect crime rates?

Crime Data Topics

Almost all criminal justice courses involve the study of some sort of data. Students will learn how to access and interpret crime statistics, crime reports, incarceration rates, and crime maps.

For research papers using crime data, students might consider one of these topics:

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