Your policy report must be between 4,000 words and 5,000 words in length (and this includes the title page and the reference pages). Your policy report needs to be double-spaced with 1.0-inch margins and using a 12-point Times New Roman font. Your policy report must be based entirely on published research (and not your opinion or non-scholarly opinions). For your capstone research project, you are charged with examining policies through a critical, social-scientific, empirical lens, and producing an action-oriented policy report targeting policymakers and agency executives (e.g. chiefs of police). It will serve the purpose of informing policymakers and agency executives on what they can do to improve on what scholars and many people in communities of color call the criminal injustice system. Thus, your policy report will include dozens of in-texts cites referencing journal articles, books, book chapters, and reports from reputable agencies such as the Vera Institute, the Prison Policy Initiative, the Sentencing Project, and government agencies, such as the Department of Justice.
Title of the policy reportThe title aims to catch the attention of the reader and compel him/her to read on and so needs to be descriptive, punchy, and relevant.
Executive summaryThe executive summary aims to convince the reader further that the report is worth in-depth investigation. It is especially important for an audience that is short of time to clearly see the relevance and importance of the report in reading the summary. As such, a 1 to 2 paragraph executive summary commonly includes: A description of the problem addressed; a statement on why the current approach/policy option needs to be changed; and your recommendations for action.
Context and importance of the problem (i.e. Introduction)The purpose of this element of the report is to convince the target audience that a current and urgent problem exists which requires them to take action. The context and importance of the problem is both the introductory and first building block of the report. As such, it usually includes the following: A clear statement of the problem or issue in focus; a short overview of the root causes of the problem; and a clear statement of the policy implications of the problem which clearly establishes the current importance and policy relevance of the issue. It is worth noting that the length of the problem description may vary considerably from report to report depending on the stage on the policy process in focus, e.g. there may be a need to have a much more extensive problem description for policy at the evaluation stage than for one at the option choosing stage.
Pre-Existing Policies, Policy Alternatives, and ResearchThe aim of this element is to detail shortcomings of the current approach or options being implemented and therefore, illustrate both the need for change and focus of where change needs to occur. It also should detail the evidence about what will likely work better (or not suffer from the shortcomings). In doing so, the critique of policy options usually includes the following: A short overview of the policy option(s) in focus and the evidence illustrating why and how the current approach is failing and why and how another option is not failing (and is hopefully working). It is also important for the sake of credibility to recognize all opinions in the debate of the issue.
Conclusionyou need to summarize what the readers should take away from your research review.
Policy recommendationsThe aim of the policy recommendations element is to provide a detailed and convincing proposal of how the failings of the current policy approach need to change. As such this is achieved by including: A breakdown of the specific practical steps or measures that need to be implemented. You may also include a closing paragraph reemphasizing the importance of action. The recommendations should follow the conclusion.
References and In-Text CitingSince your policy report is research-driven and evidence-based, you should include a reference page that includes all the journal articles, book chapters, books, and reputable reports that you used to inform your policy report. You should have at least 10, but likely more. Also, you should include in-text cites throughout your policy report. Remember, this is not original research by you, thus you should have a copious amount of in-text cites.