Policy Brief on Probation caseloads
Write a Policy paper on the following topic:
Probation caseloads: The question of probation caseloads is a broad topic. There is no doubt that as caseloads have increased that probation has adapted to meet the challenge. This has not meant that there has been fewer cases to manage, just that the different ways of dealing with caseloads has meant that they have not gotten even larger. In dealing with this topic, it is perhaps best to pick one adaptation and make recommendation about this adaptation. This means that a broad review of the research on probation changes will preceded such a selection. Once made, however, the policy brief would focus upon this area of probation.
A policy brief is a type of argumentative research paper, which makes a claim about a topic and justifies this claim with specific evidence. The goal of an argumentative paper is to convince the audience that the claim is true based on the evidence provided. That is to say, it is evidence-based
100 percent quality paper with proper citations 100 percent original.
Technical Requirements: One (1) ten page policy paper, double spaced, (not including title page, abstract /executive summary page, nor reference page). Structurally, the paper must be double-spaced, with 1.0-inch margins, in Times New Roman 12-point font. Your paper must draw from at least 8–10 sources, which must be cited correctly in the text and be documented correctly in the reference page. Of the total works cited, at least half or a minimum of six (6) should be articles from academic journals or books published by an academic press. Works cited in the text and on the reference page should be in the APA style.
The Policy Brief: Instructions PART I: Overview
The policy brief is a document that outlines the rationale for choosing a particular policy alternative or course of action in a current policy debate. It is commonly produced in response to a request directly from a decision-maker or within an organization that intends to advocate for the position detailed in the brief. Depending on the role of the writer or organization producing the document, the brief may only provide a targeted discussion of the current alternatives without arguing for a particular one (i.e. those who adopt the role of ‘objective’ researcher). On the other end of the scale, i.e. advocates, the brief may focus directly on providing an argument for the adoption of a particular alternative. Nevertheless for any case, as any policy debate is a market place of competing ideas, the purpose of the policy brief is to convince the target audience of the urgency of the current problem and the need to adopt the preferred alternative or course of action outlined and therefore, serve as an impetus for action.
As with all good marketing tools, the key to success is targeting the particular audience for your message. The most common audience for a policy brief is the decision-maker but it is also not unusual to use the document to support broader advocacy initiatives targeting a wide but knowledgeable audience (e.g. decision makers, journalists, diplomats, administrators, researchers).
REMEMBER THAT TAYLORING YOUR BRIEF FOR YOUR DESIGNATED AUDIENCE IS ESSENTIAL IN ORDER TO PRODUCE A MEANINGFUL DOCUMENT (AND THEREFORE GET A GOOD GRADE).
In constructing a policy brief that can effectively serve its intended purpose, it is common for a brief to be:
� Focused – all aspects of the policy brief (from the message to the layout) need to strategically focused on achieving the intended goal of convincing the target audience. For example, the argument provided must build on what they do know about the problem, provide insight about what they don’t know about the problem and be presented in language that reflects their values, i.e. using ideas, evidence and language that will convince them.
� Professional, not academic –The common audience for a policy brief is not interested in the research/analysis procedures conducted to produce the evidence, but are very interested to know the writer’s perspective on the problem and potential solutions based on the new evidence.
� Evidence-based – The policy brief is a communication tool produced by policy analysts and therefore all potential audiences not only expect a rational argument but will only be convinced by argumentation supported by evidence that the problem exists and the consequences of adopting particular alternatives.
� Limited – to provide an adequately comprehensive but targeted argument within a limited space, the focus of the brief needs to be limited to a particular problem or area of a problem.
� Succinct – The type of audiences targeted commonly do not have the time or inclination to read an in-depth 20 page argument on a policy problem. Therefore, it is common that policy briefs do not exceed 6 – 8 pages in length. (PLEASE KEEP IN MIND A LENGTH OF 6-8 SINGLE SPACED PAGES OR 10-12 DOUBLE-SPACED PAGES).
� Understandable – This not only refers to using clear and simple language (i.e. not the jargon and concepts of an academic discipline) but also to providing a well-explained and easy to follow argument targeting a wide but knowledgeable audience.
PSCI3071 – Policy Brief Instructions
� Accessible – the writer of the policy brief should facilitate the ease of use of the document by the target audience and therefore, should subdivide the text using clear descriptive titles to guide the reader.
� Promotional – the policy brief should catch the eye of the potential audience in order to create a favorable impression (e.g. professional, innovative etc) In this way many brief writers many of the features of the promotional leaflet (use of color, use of logos, photographs, slogans, illustrative quotes etc).
� Practical and feasible – the policy brief is an action-oriented tool targeting policy practitioners. As such the brief must provide arguments based on what is actually happening in practice with a particular policy and propose recommendation that seem realistic to the target audience
The policy brief is usually said to be the most common and effective written communication tool in a policy campaign. However, in balancing all of the criteria above, many analysts also find the brief the most difficult policy tool to write.
Common Structural Elements of a Policy Brief
As discussed above, policy briefs directly reflect the different roles that the policy analyst commonly plays, i.e. from researcher to advocate. The type of brief that we are focusing on is one from the more action-oriented, advocacy end of the continuum. Although there is much variation even at this end of the scale, the most common elements of the policy brief are as follows:
� Title of the paper
� Executive summary
� Context and importance of the problem � Critique of policy option(s)
� Policy recommendations
� Sources consulted or recommended
Title of the paper
The 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.
The executive summary aims to convince the reader further that the brief 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 brief 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;
– Your recommendations for action.
Context and importance of the problem
The purpose of this element of the brief 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 brief. 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
– A clear statement of the policy implications of the problem that 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 brief to brief 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.
Critique of policy option(s)
The 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. In doing so, the critique of policy options usually includes the following:
– A short overview of the policy option(s) in focus
– An argument illustrating why and how the current or proposed approach is failing.
It is important for the sake of credibility to recognize all opinions in the debate of the issue.
The 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
– Sometimes also includes a closing paragraph re-emphasizing the importance of action.
Although the brief is a short and targeted document, authors sometimes decide that their argument needs further support and so include an appendix. Appendices should be included only when absolutely necessary.
Sources consulted or recommended
Many writers of the policy brief decide not to include any sourcing of their evidence, as their focus is not on an academic audience (A BIBLIOGRAPHY IS MANDATORY FOR THIS ASSIGNMENT) THOUGH). However, if you decide to include a short bibliography then place it at the end. Many writers prefer to lead their readers to further reading and so, include a recommended readings section. Not surprisingly, many of the recommended readings are other related policy documents produced by their organizations!
PART II: In Practice
The following instructions will provide you with a succession of steps on how to write a compelling policy brief, which follows the general overview of its features that you’ve just read above. Please read these instructions carefully before you even start the process of writing your policy brief.
6 Steps for a compelling policy brief
Here is a list of useful steps you should consider when you approach the task of writing your policy brief.
1. Issue: examine the issue you will be dealing with. Answer these questions: is the issue general or specific? How general/specific?
2.Audience: take your primary audience into serious consideration. Your brief should be tailored to the needs of your audience. It makes a fundamental difference for how you must frame your analysis and your recommendation. Is your audience an individual (i.e. a city Mayor) or an organization (i.e. an NGO that promotes education in inner cities)? Also, your audience tells you how much context is needed in the brief (i.e.: if you are briefing Chicago’s Mayor, you don’t need to explain him/her what Cabrini-Green is and its history).
3.Actors: identify the relevant actors for the issue you are dealing with (i.e., the city government, business leaders, neighborhood associations, etc.). This is an essential step, since you will have to analyze their interests in order to make sensible and viable policy recommendations. Identifying the relevant actors is also essential to produce a good assessment of the context (see above) and of the interests that plug into the issue (see below).
4.Interests: once you have identified the relevant actors, it is necessary to analyze their interests. What are the actors’ interests? Which of the relevant actors have similar interests to your audience? Which ones have different interests? How different? This step is important both for the context part of your brief and for the critique of policy options/policy recommendations (see above and below). Without a clear identification of the actors involved in the issue and their interests, your brief will result vague, and therefore not useful.
5. Recommendations: your policy recommendations should reflect the above analysis. Remember that, according to the issue and the audience, your recommendation(s) might not suggest the best policy, but instead the most viable one. This should not limit your recommendation to just compromise policies. If you want to recommend radical change, you can; remember though that such radical action has to be implemented in some ways.
6.How-To: the last step is to suggest your audience the way to ‘sell’ the policy to its public (the public could be other members of the organizations, voters, other parties, etc.). This last step helps your audience build support/consensus to implement the policy you recommended.
The purpose of the Introduction 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 brief. As such, it usually includes the following: (1)a clear statement of the problem or issue; (2)a short overview of the root causes of the problem; and (3)a statement of the policy implications of the problem that establishes the need for a policy change.
Policy Brief on Probation caseloads