Resident Restrictions for Register Sex Offenders

Here are the five questions that your policy proposal MUST extensively and properly address:

What problem is this policy trying to solve?

What is causing the problem (that is, what is the theory that explains the cause corresponding solution?

Define the target population of the policy. Which persons or groups are included and which are not?

Identify the responsible authority. Who is required to carry out the policy, and what will their responsibilities be?

Define the provisions and procedures of the policy. Provisions specify the sanctions or services that will be delivered, the conditions that must be met in order for the policy to be carried out, and the evaluation strategies that would be adopted to assess the development and implementation of the policy. Individuals responsible for implementing a specific set of rules must also clearly understand the specific sequence of actions to be taken (procedures) to ensure that the policy is carried out consistently.

Remember NOT to structure your proposal according to the five questions above. These questions actually constitute a checklist through which to ensure completeness and consistency. Wayne N. Welsh and Philip W. Harris’s From Criminal Justice Policy and Planning that I attach to the end would provide you with a detailed clarification on these questions.

Designing a Policy

The policy proposal document should include an executive summary – a summary equal to about 10% of the total memo. Ideally, the summary should be 2 pages or less. An executive summary normally differs from an abstract in that an abstract is much shorter and is intended as a very brief overview. This executive summary is a condensed version of the full-length policy proposal, containing a succinct statement of the problem your proposed policy aims to deal with, background information, concise analysis, concluding remarks, and policy recommendations.

See examples of executive summaries:

ExecutiveSummaryExample-JudgingUseOfForce.pdfPreview the document

ExecutiveSummaryExample-LGBTStudents.pdfPreview the document

Include substantive headings to differentiate one section from another and guide the reader through the policy.

See examples of policy proposals:

PolicyExample-Incarceration.pdfPreview the document

PolicyExample-PrisonToWork.pdfPreview the document

Preventing Sex Trafficking Reducing Demand for Commercial Sex.pdfPreview the document

The policy proposal should be about 20-25 pages long. It should include a minimum of 5 sources from the course materials (2 textbooks + at least another 3 additional assigned readings). Also, you must find and use a minimum of 7 external sources, the majority of which should be peer-reviewed journal articles.

The bibliography should be formatted in APA style.

From Criminal Justice Policy and Planning, by Wayne N. Welsh and Philip W. Harris

Designing a Policy

Policies are rules, principles, or guidelines that govern actions, while programs are organizations created to address specific needs or problems of a target population. Often programs are created to carry out large-scale policies. For example, the policy of requiring drugabusing defendants in criminal court to participate in drug treatment has produced both new drug treatment programs and, more recently, drug courts. Drug courts possess more specialized knowledge of drug addiction and are better equipped to address the unique problems of the addicted defendant.

Policies are never designed by individuals working alone. Instead, because the decisions of a great many people will be affected, policy design occurs within a legislative process. Elected legislators of government bodies typically vote on policies designed by subcommittees. In private organizations, a similar process occurs through the board of directors. In other words, the creation of rules is usually the business of a legitimate body of rule-makers.

Policies vary in terms of their complexity. For example, a policy states that visitors to the offices of a program must sign a visitors’ log. This is not a rule that typically requires discussion by a legislative body. Instead, these lower-level policies are handled at an administrative level. We will concern ourselves here, however, with broader policies created to address significant criminal justice problems. The design of a policy involves specifying in detail the elements of the policy that make it possible for others to use it appropriately. In other words, if the provisions and procedures of the policy are not laid out clearly, actions may be taken that are inconsistent with the intent of the policymakers. In addition, if elements of the policy are missing, then incomplete implementation may result. As an example, in the early 1980s, Philadelphia’s Municipal Court initiated a new policy for handling drunk drivers. The idea was that small amounts of punishment combined with education and treatment would be more effective than punishment alone. Consequently, new penalties that included jail sentences of only a few days were created, requirements were added that immediately after sentencing the offender would be tested for alcohol abuse problems, and contracts were established with private programs to provide alcohol abuse treatment and education. But a critical piece was missing. No one was made responsible to see that the sentence was carried out, and no record of participation was maintained. Over time, offenders learned that if they ignored the sentence, nothing would happen. Ironically, the more times an offender was sentenced, the less likely it was that the sentence was completed.

In designing a policy, the change agent typically identifies:

The problem and the cause of the problem

The target population, or who will be affected by the policy,

The decision authority, or who has the authority to carry out the policy,

The provisions of the policy (what members of the target population will receive), and the steps that must be followed (e.g., the procedures that should be undertaken to develop, implement and monitor the proposed policy).

Identify a Problem

The first step must be to identify a problem. Many policies are unclear or ineffective because the policy authors are not clear about what problem the policy is trying to solve. The more clear you are about the problem you are trying to solve, the more clear your policy will be. For example, if you want to solve the problem of juvenile delinquency, it would be helpful to define what you mean by “juvenile delinquency” – do you mean all criminal activities by people under 18? Do you mean all socially disruptive activity by children (even if the behavior is not criminal)? Take the time to think through what the problem actually is before you jump into trying to solve it.

Identify the Cause of the Problem

A good policy not only clearly identifies the problem it is designed to solve, but also reflects a theoretical perspective that explains what causes the problem. When this causal mechanism is identified, the solution is built in. For example, imagine you believe a particular organizational problem – such as high turnover – is caused when workers do not have a say in the goals or objectives of the organization. This may be a problem in some rigidly hierarchical organizations, like the police. If you think the cause of police dissatisfaction is caused by lack of motivation, then you’re looking at motivation theories, which argue that employees are more motivated and less likely to leave an organization when they have a say in the goals of the organization. In this case, the policy is clear: Police officers should have a say in the goals of their organization. If, however, your policy is: police officers should be penalized by excessive sick days, your policy does not reflect what you think is causing the problem.

Define the Target Population of the Policy

Policies affect people. Much like programs, they are intended to benefit or punish specific groups of people through the actions of decisionmakers. A policy that certain juveniles will be automatically tried as adults (“direct file” or “automatic exclusion”) must clearly specify the characteristics of individuals and their offenses that will make them eligible for trial in criminal court. How old must they be? What offenses are included? Do they need to have a record of prior offenses? Must the prior offenses be serious? Is there any way that these juveniles can be tried in juvenile court?

For other types of policies, the question is often one of selection: whether the rule applies to everyone or whether only certain persons or groups are being targeted. Recent research has shown that serious juvenile crimes occur at specific times of day. Many cities have instituted curfews to reduce crimes that occur between 11:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M. This type of policy applies to all persons within a specific age range. In a South Carolina study, however, researchers found that most violent crimes occur around 3:00 P.M., right after school. This information implies that more after school programming is needed.

Identify the Responsible Authority

Who is to carry out the policy, and what will the responsibilities of those persons be? Many states, for example, have implemented sentencing guidelines that limit the ranges of sentences that judges can give to offenders, depending on current and prior offense information. Judges are required to stay within the specified reasons or to provide written justification for giving a sentence that is outside the range. In this case, the judge is the responsible authority, and the judge must consult the guidelines before assigning the sentence. This assignment of responsibility to an organizational unit or to persons occupying a specific role in an organization is important to the policy’s success. It assures that relevant knowledge, credibility, and lines of authority are consistent with other policies.

In some cases, a new policy results in the creation of new agencies. In the case of sentencing guidelines, many states have created commissions that monitor implementation of the guidelines, including training judges, prosecutors, defenders, and others who need to know the new rules. Importantly, these sentencing commissions monitor use of the guidelines and learn from the application of the guidelines how to improve them. For example, if judges routinely make exceptions to the guidelines in cases involving use of a weapon or drug addiction, then the commission needs to review the guidelines to see if changes are needed. It may be that the justifications provided by judges are consistent and convincing, and that the guidelines should reflect the values and beliefs being expressed by these judges. This example shows how important it is to assign responsibility for carrying out a policy to the right persons. Not only will implementation be more effective; the policy itself has a better chance of being improved.

Specify Policy Provisions and Procedures

In order for a set of principles or rules to be implemented well, individuals responsible for carrying them out must understand what is to be done (provisions) and the steps that must be taken (procedures) so that the policy is carried out consistently. In the case of a curfew for juveniles, the rule about “who gets what and in what order” is clear. In other cases, however, the policy statement must be more detailed. It is critical that provisions and procedures be developed and stated clearly in order to ensure consistency, fairness, and control of costs associated with the policy’s implementation. Typically the policy identifies:

Provisions: What is to be done: the goods, services, opportunities, or interventions that will be delivered to members of the target population

Procedures: The steps that need to be followed and the conditions that must be met to apply the policy (i.e., implementation and evaluation).

For example, state Community Corrections Acts (CCAs) are policies that specify how community correctional programs should be developed to control the growth of prison populations. The provisions of state CCAs vary on at least four dimensions:

The degree of decentralization of authority from state to local levels (e.g., administrative control granted to city/county networks v. state-run programs).

The nature of citizen participation in the design, governance, and operation of community corrections programs (e.g., citizen advisory board, role in case screening).

Relative emphasis on deinstitutionalization of offenders (e.g., the degree to which reductions in local or state prison populations are explicitly mandated; funding incentives or disincentives are tied to prison populations).

The nature and scope of individualized sanctions and services to be offered (e.g., relative emphasis on rehabilitation, reintegration, restitution, restoration, or control).

We see that provisions may overlap to some degree with decision authority and target identification. The decision authority who chooses to keep some prison-bound offenders in the community may be bound by strict eligibility criteria that include the type of crime the offender committed, their prior court history, and their family or employment situations. In another setting the policy may specify a requirement (provision) that a certain proportion of prison-bound offenders must stay in the community. How these offenders are selected may or may not be left to the discretion of decisionmakers.

When specifying the provisions of a policy, it is also important to specify the specific steps or procedures to be followed. For example, Emergency Release Acts are controversial policy options that require a local or state correctional agency to release certain prisoners in order to bring the population down to an acceptable level.10 Obviously, such a policy is not popular with everyone. Letting prisoners out before their sentence is completed may be regarded as cheating. After all, the judge handed down a sentence that seemed fair. The fact that the prison is crowded doesn’t change the appropriateness of the sentence. The fact is, however, that criminal justice agencies are not given infinite resources. They must do the best that they can with limited resources. In designing an Emergency Release policy, then, it is important to state clearly the sequence of actions (procedures) that must be taken when the prison population reaches a specified level:

Prison populations are to be monitored daily.

Projections are made about immediate crowding problems.

Responsible persons are designated to make release decisions.

The governor’s office must be consulted in specific cases.

Persons with specific authority must sign orders.

Arrangements must be made for those inmates about to be released.

Notification to other agencies (e.g., law enforcement) may be required.

These steps are especially important when the rights of individuals are affected, eligibility might be challenged, resources are limited, and public objections are likely. Clear procedures help to ensure consistency and fairness in the application of a policy.

As you write your policy, remember to include:

An executive summary – a one or two page summary of the main points, using bullet points (or similar) to emphasize the take home message and evidence to support it.

The problem this policy is trying to solve

The cause of the problem

The target population of the policy

The responsible authority to carry out the policy (this should be the audience for the proposal, so speak to this authority)

The provisions and procedures of the policy

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