Are you writing a research paper and having a hard time finding good criminal justice research topics? Thankfully, we have compiled a list of 10 of the best criminal justice research paper topic ideas. We’ve also included several criminal justice research questions and examples of criminal justice research topics to help you write your best paper.
Criminal justice is a great field for both those wanting a greater understanding of the US justice system and those who want to know what it is like to be a lawyer. If you want to write the best criminal justice paper you can, this article is for you.
What Makes a Strong Criminal Justice Research Topic?
Strong criminal justice research papers consist of a focused question to answer and a specific area of criminal justice like forensic science, serial killers, substance abuse, sexual offenders, cyber criminology, corporate crime, juvenile justice, or criminal behavior. Most educational institutions have guidelines that must be followed for picking criminal justice topics for your criminology research paper, and this list will give you a great place to start researching.
Tips for Choosing a Criminal Justice Research Topic
- Follow the guidelines of your institution. If you are studying criminal justice at any university like Loyola University, Cornell University, Walden University, or even Harvard University, your professor has probably given you guidelines to stick to.
- Keep it focused. When you’re writing a criminal justice research paper it is best to keep a tight focus on your topic. Keep your research focused and remember to stay on task by using study tips, taking breaks, and improving on and practicing your writing skills daily.
- Choose a narrow topic. When choosing your topic the scope of your criminal justice research paper mustn’t be too broad. Ask and answer one question or use one thesis statement that is clear and well-defined.
- Choose a topic that is well-researched. When writing a paper on criminal justice, many topics are too new to have solid research. Pick a topic that has many cases related to it, or is focused on a common issue.
- Choose a topic you are passionate about. There is nothing worse than being stuck writing about a topic you have no interest in. That’s why you should make sure your topic is something that you want to write about. If it ignites your passion, write about it.
What’s the Difference Between a Research Topic and a Research Question?
The difference between a research topic and a research question is that research topics are the broad area of study and research that is used to answer the research question. Research questions are what you are attempting to answer by researching your criminal justice topic.
Criminology topics can encompass areas of study like crime mapping, crime rates, crime prevention, female crimes, experimental criminology, homegrown crimes, or even criminal psychology. Research questions should be very narrow and like do certain criminal justice laws reduce crime? Do criminal justice practitioners engage in critical criminology? Does education in prison reduce reincarnation?
How to Create Strong Criminal Justice Research Questions
When writing a strong criminal justice research question you should ask three questions. Does this question have sufficient research to reference? Is the question narrow and focused? Am I passionate about this topic? If you ask these questions and use our guide to help you get started, you’ll be well on your way to writing a great criminal justice research paper.
Top 10 Criminal Justice Research Paper Topics
1. Bad Living Conditions and Access to Justice
In the criminal justice system, sometimes where you live may have an impact on your access to justice. In 2011, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago alleging that the Chicago police department had slower response times in areas of the city with poor living conditions. The case was settled in 2021 with a plan to improve.
2. White-Collar Crimes Compared to Working-Class Criminals Punishments
White-collar crimes are generally finance-related crimes such as fraud, embezzlement, or money laundering. According to Cornell University School of Law, white-collar crime costs over $300 billion annually in the US. However, white-collar criminals are prosecuted less severely than their working-class counterparts.
3. False Accusation, False Confessions, and Plea Bargaining
This area of criminal behavior is interesting, as our justice system actually allows for admissions of guilt even if the party did not commit the crime. Sometimes sentences can be reduced if a guilty plea is entered even if the party did not commit the crime.
4. Restorative Justice Efforts on Youthful Offenders
Juvenile and youth offenders have many different rules and avenues for justice. One of these unique approaches to keeping young people from their delinquent behavior employed by problem-solving courts is the concept of restorative justice. Restorative justice is a process that helps offenders make amends with the person or community they hurt with their deviant behaviors.
5. Criminal Justice Reform in Hate Crimes
Hate crimes are crimes that are motivated by hatred of someone or a group of people’s immutable characteristics. In recent years, many states have adopted the federal bias categories as outlined by the Department of Justice. These categories are not adopted by every state, which creates several directions for research questions.
6. Organized Crime and the Social Class Criminal Behavior of Members
Organized crime has been around for centuries, but can be prevalent in communities that see crime as a way of life and family. It can be a robust topic to try and understand the influences that family and community have on organized crime.
7. Criminal Justice Agencies and International Crime Investigation Efforts
One thing that is not often talked about is the relationship between criminal justice agencies that work together across countries. Many agencies work together, and many are made jointly. The most notable agency that does this is Interpol which, in 2021, arrested 1,003 alleged criminals and closed 1,660 cases in just one investigation.
8. Impacts of Wildlife Crime and Environmental Crime
Two little written about criminal justice topics in this scientific field are the topics of environmental and wildlife crime. Pollution, littering, dumping, poaching, and wildfire started by humans are all areas that could be a great place to use your analytical skills and nab a decent grade.
9. Relationship Between Crime and Eyewitness Testimony
Eyewitness testimonies are a staple of modern justice. Many violent crime convictions hinge on the ability of eyewitness testimony to convince a jury of what occurred. Sometimes eyewitness testimony can be unreliable, or the multiple witnesses can testify something different from one another resulting in a wrongful conviction. Many crimes like drunk driving or theft can rest on this method of testimony.
10. Relationship Between Law Enforcement and Racial Profiling
Racial profiling is a topic that has received a lot of coverage and is one of the major criminal justice issues of today. Human rights careers deal with the impact of racial and social issues in the US. There are many areas in which law enforcement has to improve in the area of social science. This is a broad topic with many implications for criminal justice ethics and the area of distributive justice.
Other Examples of Criminal Justice Research Topics & Questions
Criminal Justice Research Topics
- Jury nullification
- Online predators
- Drunk drivers
- Gun control
- Campus crime
Criminal Justice Research Questions
- Does restorative justice reduce incarceration rates in juveniles?
- Do drug courts engage with racial profiling in the criminal justice system?
- Are environmental crimes underreported in the criminal justice field?
- Can organized criminal behavior be reduced by new crime control measures?
- Does mental illness cause more false confessions?
Choosing the Right Criminal Justice Research Topic
If you take these criminal justice research topic ideas and start researching, you’ll find a topic that strikes your creativity and deals with current justice issues. If college courses seem like they may not be for you, you can always use your knowledge to get a job in criminal justice without a degree.
As we stated earlier, two important parts to finding a great topic for criminology studies or criminal justice is to follow your institution’s guidelines and find a topic that you’re passionate about. Difficult topics like child abuse, victim services, jury selection, sexual violence, or any other of the wide range of topics are important and you can do them real justice and care in your paper.
Criminal Justice Research Topics FAQ
A good criminal research topic should be a broad area with lots of research and case studies behind it. It follows your institutional guidelines and that you are passionate about.
Controversial topics in criminal justice include issues that the court is not settled on or ones that disrupt long-standing positions in the courts. Issues like private prisons, gun control, reproductive rights, and criminal court reform could all be considered controversial.
Feminist criminology started in the late 60s and early 70s to bring attention to both female criminals and victims. The movement started because of the male-focused approach to criminal psychology with little to no regard for how a woman may be psychologically different.
Current issues in the criminal justice system include topics like racial justice, social justice, police reform, reproductive rights, and LGBTQ+ discrimination. Many of these topics are being discussed in both state and federal courts.
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