Purpose: The purpose of this assignment is to analyze, through an ethical lens, a case of wrongful conviction and the fight to get it overturned. The case of Walter McMillian contains several ethical dilemmas and the book details several unethical choices made by individuals working in the criminal justice system. An analysis of the case will allow you to apply the ethical concepts from class.
Skills: This assignment will help you practice skills that are essential in the criminal justice field, including:
· Applying your knowledge of the criminal justice system to specific issues.
· Analyzing ideas and data presented to you.
· Thinking critically by making connections between new ideas and what you know about the system or have experienced/seen in the media.
Knowledge: This assignment will illustrate that having strong personal and professional ethics are critical for those working in the criminal justice system. It will highlight the repercussions of unethical choices in McMillian’s case and the other cases mentioned in the book.
Task: You will be reflecting upon and analyzing Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, which tells several stories of injustice and particularly focuses on the wrongful conviction of Walter McMillian. Write a paper of 2,000-2,500 words (about eight to ten double-spaced pages) combining the book and your knowledge of the criminal justice system into an ethical reflection/analysis paper. You are to analyze the book through the following prompts:
· Start with an interesting opening paragraph. Use a quote or a theme that you think frames the book well. Open the paper in a way that makes the reader want to continue readings.
· Summarize the book in a few paragraphs.
· What did you find interesting/surprising/frustrating? What caught your attention? Did something in the book challenge your thinking or alter your perception? Was a section unclear or did it leave you with questions? If so, what are they? You do not have to respond to each of these questions – they are examples and/or starting points for your reflections.
· Reflect on emotions that arise as you read. This may anger or upset you; it will make you sad. It is fine to express that but ensure that your writing is academic and tactful.
· Explain who Bryan Stevenson is and his mission. How did he get there? What does his mission mean to him and the community?
· How does this book frame ethics in the cases that it covers?
· Choose 5-7 ethical issues from the book that you will analyze.
· Set each up by setting the stage of the situation. Who was involved? What was going on? What was the ethical dilemma/issue? What did the individual decide? Can you infer which ethical system was used to make the decision? Which ethical system would you have used and what would you have done given those circumstances? I know we cannot know for sure what we would do – hypothesize.
· Relate what you are reading to personal experiences, things that you have heard about in the news, or class discussions/readings. Make connections here.
· Provide a strong conclusion.
· Make sure that you flesh out themes and display your critical thinking in your writing.
Each student’s paper will be unique, so do not worry if you focused on different things than your classmates. Tell me what jumped out at you and what you connected to other things. Do not critique the author/book/style of writing. Focus on the content.
Criteria for success: To score well on the paper, you must include the following elements:
1. Provide enough detail to show me that you read the entire book
2. Address each of the eight prompts above, with the ninth sprinkled throughout in terms of thematic writing and critical thinking.
3. You may use first person (“I”) as you are responding to the content of the book.
4. The paper must be 2,000-2,500 words and double-spaced.
5. Illustrate application of course material (from this or other courses), critical thinking, and analysis skills in a thematic paper in paragraph form using examples and supporting evidence.
6. Ten percent of your score rests on the quality, grammar, style, and professionalism of the paper.
7. You can cite the book as simply Stevenson or “the book”, depending on the context of the citation. You are not required to use other sources, but if you do, they must be cited in APA format.
8. There is no need for a title page, abstract, or running head for this assignment.
9. It is due via GeorgiaView on November 2 by 11:59pm. Late papers will incur a 10% per day late penalty. No papers will be accepted more than three days late.
10. Assignments must be in .doc. .docx, or .rtf format. I cannot grade what I cannot read/open.
11. Your paper will be run through Turnitin. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Make sure that you have read the plagiarism resources on GeorgiaView and understand how to properly cite your sources (if outside sources used). See the syllabus for the academic dishonesty policy in the course.
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