Death Penalty Project
Tech Lit Death Penalty Paired Research Project
DEATH PENALTY ESSAY
1. Formal outline: Your formal outline must follow this format (click here) and must include your three-pronged thesis statement. Your outline must be submitted in a hard copy to Mr. Homitz.
2. Length: 450-word expository essay about one specific aspect of the death penalty for each of the students in a pair. One essay per student.
3. Thesis: Within your overall topic, you will choose a very specific focus.
4. Structure: You will write this research paper using a strict multi-paragraph essay rubric, creating a strong thesis, introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. You will use topic sentences and transitions.
5. Research and Evidence: This is a formal educational and informational essay and it will require several legitimate and reliable research resources. You must use statistical data, direct quotations, and a bibliography in MLA format .
6. Bibliography: In MLA format for all resources used. You must use at least four resources and one of these must be a book (not A Lesson Before Dying). Here is a good example of a properly formatted bibliography.
7. Objectivity: You are a reporter, a gatherer of information, and a teacher. Do not inject your personal bias into this paper or the presentation. Give us a balanced set of facts, and let us make our own decisions.
DEATH PENALTY ORAL PRESENTATION
This is about your topic, in pairs. Presentation qualities assessed: speaking skills, presentation quality, clarity of the information, working with a partner effectively, and effective use of research resources. This is a formal presentation and you will be assessed by your ability to deliver serious information in a clear and meaningful way. You must provide an objective view of the topic you were given. You will also be graded by how well you use class time to research information and generate both the presentation and essays.
Use what you feel works best for collaborating with a partner in order to create a quality presentation. You have now experienced Prezi, Google Presentation, PowerPoint and Photostory. Decide as a team which you will use.
Each presentation must be between three and five minutes in length. Presenters should speak equally over the course of the presentation. Here’s the rubric that we will use to assess your presentation.
1/19: Outlines returned. Refine research and fill in the “blanks” for your outline. Classwork on being a detective online. Plus – what do you use to build your bibliographies in MLA format? Build bibliographies in Milstead’s class and turn in bibliography to Mr. Homitz. Minimum three sources – only one can be Wikipedia.
1/21 and 1/22: plan on working on your rough draft over the weekend. Don’t wait until Monday night. Refer to your outline checklist as you write.
2/7: Death Penalty presentations begin in Mr. Homitz’s room with all students present.
DEATH PENALTY TOPICS
TOPIC 1: Explain the history of the death penalty in the United States and how the federal law currently differs from the death penalty laws in the western industrialized nations (the G-8). Include information about other countries that are less developed than the G-8 that also institute capital punishment laws. Compare and contrast the wide variety of international policies.
TOPIC 2: Explain the history of the death penalty in California. Go back to the beginning of statehood. How does it differ from the death penalty laws at the federal level? Explain the general appeal process in the United States, and in California specifically. What is an appeal? Who appeals? To whom do they appeal? How long does it take? How much does it cost taxpayers for a prisoner to appeal the death penalty?
TOPIC 3: Explain the current status of the death penalty in California. Discuss, in detail, what events and concerns have impacted recent decisions about death row in California. Be sure to reference the current status of death row at San Quentin. This is a very current topic and may evolve during the course of this project.
TOPIC 4: Explain the three rationales for instituting the death penalty: Justice, an eye-for-an-eye; Cost, cheaper than keeping a man in prison for life; and Public Safety, ridding society of a dangerous person – and keeping them from ordering hits (assassinations) from prison. Provide detailed analysis of specific and notorious recent case studies: Karla Fay Tucker, Tookie Williams, and Timothy McVeigh (you may use different case studies) for each rationale.
TOPIC 5: Explain whether the death penalty has been found to be a deterrent to violent crime for criminals in the United States in general and California specifically. Use statistics to support your assertions and opinions. Explain the different methods used for capital punishment in the United States and the current controversies over some of the methods. Some are considered “cruel and unusual” and groups are lobbying against those methods. Why are these considered “cruel and unusual” when others are not?
TOPIC 6: Research Pro-Death Penalty Groups in the United States. Discuss the two most active groups (how many members do they have, what is their source of financial support, what is their origin, what is their affiliation/bias) that you located online?
TOPIC 7: Research Anti-Death Penalty Groups in the United States. Discuss the two most active groups (how many members do they have, what is their source of financial support, what is their origin, what is their affiliation/bias) that you located online?
TOPIC 8: Race and the Death Penalty in the United States. Based on statistical data, explain what ethnic groups in the United States are most likely to be on death row as well as those executed. How has this changed over the 20th century? How does this compare to overall rates of incarceration (put in prison) in the United States?
TOPIC 9: Death Penalty in the top five nations (based on number of executions in 2010) explore both the reasons and methods. How does this compare to the United States? Of these nations what is the current trend of death penalty punishment? Rising or falling? Why?
TOPIC 10: Countries (not states) that have abolished the death penalty and why? What motivated these changes? Give at least three specific examples from the 20th or 21st century.
TOPIC 11: Death Row realities in the United States: Describe the realities of a death row sentence. What is the average time that a death row inmate spends before being executed? Is it possible to be removed from death row and how can this occur? Give specific examples.
TOPIC 12: DNA and Death Row. How have improvements in DNA use in criminal cases and evidence gathering changed death row sentencing? What efforts are being made to re-open cases where individuals have been sentenced to death row on a national level in the United States? Be sure to include specific examples but don’t let these examples rule your essay and presentation.
RESEARCH PROCESS AND PRESENTATION PRODUCT:
- Research online sources. What is a credible and reliable source? What isn’t? Remain objective in this process as you gather information. You are an unbiased researcher of facts.
- Build a supreme PowerPoint. What is an effective visual aid, what isn’t?
- Rehearse and prepare to present to the class. Know your stuff.
- Prepare to explain your topic, whether it is your view or not. Know the opposite argument, make concessions, have statistics to support your opinions.
Second Period Pairs
Fifth Period Pairs