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Toward the Ideal of Community Justice

NCJ Number
National Institute of Justice Journal Dated: October 2000 Pages: 20-27
Date Published
October 2000
8 pages
Publication Series
In exploring the relatively new concept of community justice, this article examines the roles and relationships of the victim, offender, and community, as well as the role of the justice system.
Two models are also presented--one in Austin, Tex., and one statewide in Vermont--to provide more tangible examples of how these citizen-based initiatives work and how they interact with more traditional criminal justice practices. Two central elements grafted from policing--problem solving and community orientation--animate community justice. The approach, which is proactive rather than focused on criminal events, is handled on a case-by-case basis. Community justice taps into the problem solving skills of citizens instead of relying solely on the expertise of professionals. It is localized and flexible rather than centralized and standardized. Whereas in traditional criminal justice the outcome of a case generally involves restricting the offender's freedom, in community justice, restoring what the victim and the community lost as a result of the crime is primary. In this respect, community justice closely resembles restorative justice. In discussing the principles of democratic community justice, the article addresses the roles of victim, offender, and community, as well as the role of the justice system. A profile of a community justice program in Vermont involves reparative probation that upholds standards of community behavior. Austin's (Texas) Community Justice Councils promote stewardship of the community. A discussion of the principles of egalitarian community justice focuses on a shift in priority from crime control to crime prevention. The concluding section of the article considers some of the practical issues in implementing the concepts of community justice. A listing of 29 sources for more information and 14 notes

Date Published: October 1, 2000