Analysing the impacts of alternative community justice strategies

Students are to write an essay analysing the impacts of alternative community justice strategies


This is a summative assessment piece, allowing students to bring together the key ideas and theories explored over the Semester to critically evaluate the benefits of alternative community justice strategies. This is a formal academic essay, requiring students to build an evidence – based theoretical argument. The topic allows students significant flexibility to consider an area of the criminal justice system they are most interested in.

This piece follows from the foundational work students have completed in their first assessment, the case study. The case study allowed students to ‘zoom in’ and focus on a specific alternative justice program; the best case studies identified the limitations in the traditional criminal justice system that the program sought to address and began to offer a critique of the effectiveness of that program. In this essay, students will be invited to ‘zoom out’ and focus more broadly on an area of the criminal justice system from a more theoretical perspective, understanding the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that shape an area of the alternative criminal justice system.

While this is an essay that requires students to evaluate more broadly at the traditional justice system and alternative justice approaches and theories, students may choose to use their chosen program from their cases study to illustrate their arguments. For example, if students wrote about the Drug Court in their case study, they may choose to explore more broadly a therapeutic justice approach in their essay. If students wrote about Right Step in their case study, they may choose to explore more broadly the youth justice context and the alternative justice approaches used in addressing youth offending, such as a focus on diversion. If students were particularly interested in the conversations in class around a Victim-Centred Approach or restorative justice approach, they are invited to explore this in their essays.

The best essays will identify a key argument that flows throughout the essay and will use strong TEEL paragraphs while exploring one key idea per paragraph.

Here are some key questions to consider as you build a holistic discussion:

* Strengths – what are the strengths of this alternative approach (remember, not thinking only about one program, but a broader systemic approach)? This discussion might especially help you identify the limitations in the traditional system (i.e high recidivism rates, high cost of existing traditional approaches, marginalisation of victims, isolation and segregation of offenders, stigmatisation of communities.)

* Weaknesses – what are the limitations of this alternative approach (get critical!)

* Opportunities – thinking about the broader social and political context of the criminal justice system, what opportunities are there for this alternative approach to be adopted or expanded? (i.e impact on crime reduction? Cost effective solution? Think about public narratives.)

* Threats – thinking about the broader social and political context of the criminal justice system, what external threats exist that might prevent this alternative approach to be adopted or expanded? (i.e law and order narrative?)

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