Olympic College Criminology T

Learning Objective:

To facilitate critical thinking about theoretical explanations of criminal activity, you will be analyzing a criminal case using a theory of your choice. Your job is to learn about the criminal case and to choose the theory you believe best explains the case. You will be evaluated based on the quality of your theoretical explanations as well as your ability to communicate these ideas effectively.

Criminal Case (choose one):

Michelle Carter

Lori Drew

Theory Options (choose one):

Crimes and Punishment (Beccaria)

The Criminal Man (Lombroso)

Theory of Differential Association (Sutherland and Cressey)

Social Learning Theory of Crime (Akers)

Social Structure and Anomie (Merton)

General Strain Theory (Agnew)

Social Bond Theory (Hirschi)

A General Theory of Crime (Gottfredson and Hirschi)


In your write up, you should provide the audience with foundational knowledge about your case. You will then utilize one theory to explain your case. To do this, you should provide a clear explanation of a theoretical concept and a clear statement of what it specifically explains. Finally, you should also identify any “lack of fit” between theory and case.

Your assignment should, at a minimum, include:

  • One paragraph covering the basic details of the criminal case.
  • One paragraph identifying and providing a basic explanation of your chosen
  • Two paragraphs clearly explaining how your theory explains the criminal case.
  • One paragraph identifying any weaknesses in your analysis (details that cannot be explained by your theory).

This is truly the bare minimum. This means that I expect most students will need to write a few more paragraphs to clearly communicate their analyses.

Other important details:

  • You must include citations in APA format. All case material and theoretical material must be cited (including material from the textbook).
  • I have included some links you may use in looking at this case. You may also choose to do further research on this case. Be sure to cite all sources used.
  • Your paper should be typed, double spaced, in 12-point Times New Roman font. Please use complete sentences and proofread before submission.


Your case analysis will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  1. Summary of Criminal Case
    • Clarity of case details
    • Relevance of case details
  2. Theoretical Analysis
    • Appropriateness of theoretical choice
    • Clarity of theoretical explanation
    • Strength of theoretical application
    • Identification of theoretical weaknesses in analysis
  3. Organization, Clarity, and Editing (Grammar and Spelling)
  4. Inclusion of Citations

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