Based on nationwide hearings and discussions with practitioners who manage the country's police force, courts, and prisons, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Advisory Board concludes that the present criminal justice system does not deter serious, violent crime or serve justice.
Swift prosecution and certain punishment, essential elements in deterring crime, do not exist in the United States today. Little is known about what actually works in preventing crime, and traditional approaches have not proven substantially effective. Correctional facilities are so overcrowded that criteria for release are based on who is least dangerous, not who is safe to return to society. Law enforcement agencies still lack resources to concentrate on the minority of career criminals who commit most crimes. Police and jail officials are unprepared to deal with aberrant behavior of drug abusers and mentally ill persons released from institutions. Efforts by police, legislators, correctional personnel, courts, and researchers to control crime are divisive and uncoordinated, and all programs currently are operating under fiscal restraints. Criminal victims are treated as pawns of the judicial process rather than as aggrieved parties, and fear of crime continues to rise although crime rates are stable. Finally, workable, innovative approaches to fighting crime developed by researchers have not been disseminated adequately to practitioners. This report examines these conclusions in some detail, beginning with law enforcement views of career criminal programs, budget squeezes, the detective's role, mentally ill offenders, juvenile offenders, gun control, and minorities. The section on courts covers delays, plea bargaining, bail, neighborhood justice centers, the exclusionary rule, probation, victim services, and the insanity plea. Critical issues in the correctional field include jail overcrowding, risk prediction, parole, court-ordered reform, the private sector's role, and correctional salaries. The report presents general recommendations to resolve these problems along with hearings' schedules, a list of witnesses, biographical sketches of the NIJ Advisory Board, and approximately 80 references.
Date Published: January 1, 1983
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