When you decided to major in criminology or criminal justice, you were probably thinking more about gathering evidence at crime scenes. Instead you have to come up with good research paper topics for your next term paper. Where do you begin? Possible topics range far and wide from domestic terrorism to electronic surveillance to sex crimes. Whatever you choose, it won’t be boring. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Criminal justice research paper topics
For a good overview of possible topics be sure to check out Questia, the Internet’s largest online library of full-text books and articles. When you browse the library you’ll find criminology and crime listings within sociology and anthropology. Subtopics include:
- law enforcement
- illegal drugs
- sex crimes
But you’ll want to dig further to narrow your topic to something more manageable. Consider these topics:
- DNA testing
- hate speech
An example of the resources available on Questia includes the book Taking Liberties: The War on Terror and the Erosion of American Democracy by Susan N. Herman. In the book, Herman examines how a decade of war on terrorism has eroded our civil liberties at great cost to our democracy.
A major factor affecting the safety and privacy of Americans after September 11, 2001 was the passage of The Patriot Act. Regarding this piece of legislation Herman said, “This Act was passed a mere six weeks after 9/11, without any meaningful deliberations or hearings. In retrospect, the assertion that Congress already knew exactly what tools were required to obstruct terrorism sounds like fear-induced swagger. The contents of the Act matched its overconfident title.”
Justice system resources
There are plenty of resources on the web covering criminal justice topics. One is the Vera Institute of Justice where you can find information about research projects aimed at improving our justice system. On the blog Current Thinking, you’ll find thoughtful analysis of current topics and issues.
For example, in a September 16, 2013 post titled, “Learning behind bars…the effectiveness of education in prisons” Lois Davis and Robert Bozick discussed the benefits of educating inmates.
“In looking across these studies, we determined that inmates who participate in correctional education programs were 43 percent less likely to return to prison within three years of release than those who did not participate. This translates into a 13–percentage-point reduction in the risk of recidivating,” they said.
Go straight to the source
How about going to the main source itself
— the U.S. Department of Justice website? Here you’ll be able to access information about news, legislation and strategic plans from various government agencies on the Justice Blog.
In a November 18, 2013 post titled, “Liberty, Opportunity and Equality for All: The Employment Non-Discrimination Act Vote,” Acting assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, Jocelyn Samuels discussed efforts to promote opportunity and access for Americans in the LGBT community.
“Four years ago, Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act to protect LGBT individuals from hate-fueled violence. Now it’s time for Congress to make certain that these Americans enjoy equal opportunities in the workplace and equal access to the American dream,” Samuels concluded.
Other criminology and criminal justice links
Critcrim.org: Critical criminology information resources; this site provides research and theory in criminology; the site includes a forum where members can discuss ideas and exchange information.
National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS): You can search the questions and answers area to access hundreds of questions related to juvenile and criminal justice victim assistance, substance abuse and NCJRS services.
Intelnews.org: Written by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis, coordinator of the Security and Intelligence Studies program at King College and Ian Allen, who is a 25-year veteran of the intelligence community. The authors share news and views on intelligence and espionage.
FBI news blog: This is the official blog of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Posts provide current facts about FBI investigations.
Homeland Security blog: This is the official blog of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Young Forensic Scientists Forum (YFSF): A group within the American Academy of Forensic Sciences providing resources about education and employment.
National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC): The resources page of this site contains links to resources on topics ranging from bullying to violent crimes.
The Crime Report: A compendium of resources, news and views on crime and justice.
What’s your favorite criminology topic? Tell us about it in the comments below.
Read more about criminology and criminal justice on Questia where you can access millions of full-text books and articles.