The New Criminal Justice: American Communities and the Changing World of Crime Control

The New Criminal Justice: American Communities and the Changing World of Crime Control

The New Criminal Justice: American Communities and the Changing World of Crime Control

The New Criminal Justice: American Communities and the Changing World of Crime Control

Synopsis

Criminal justice in the United States is in the midst of momentous changes: an era of low crime rates not seen since the 1960s, and a variety of budget crunches also exerting profound impacts on the system. This book chronicles these changes and suggests a new, emerging model to the criminal justice system.

Excerpt

John Klofas, Natalie Hippie, and Ed McGarrell have compiled an excellent volume, far more than just a collection of chapters. Like many edited books, there are outstanding contributions, with important findings and policy statements. Unlike most edited books, however, this volume highlights one of the most important new themes in criminal justice in the past decade. It is not an overstatement to say that this book lays out the model for the New Criminal Justice. For those who only paid attention to life course criminology, hierarchical linear modeling, or macro-level theory for the past decade, you missed the emergence of this important, new way of dealing with crime problems. The New Criminal Justice is evidence based, practice oriented, and theoretically driven. The New Criminal Justice has research in the beginning, the middle, and the end of the model. In fact, there really is no end to research in this model, or shouldn’t be, as it should be a loop that reinvents itself.

Sparked by high rates of violence in the 1990s and the frustration of the public, elected officials and criminal justice leaders, a new criminal justice emerged around the turn of the century. This movement, not yet fully institutionalized, is based on five key principles: (1) data-driven approaches to guide the development, implementation and assessment of interventions, (2) staying focused on short-term problems, (3) a strategic focus on interventions, (4) a conceptual model of what caused the problem and how to address it, and (5) an integrated functionality across systems, persons, roles, and ranks. This paradigm shift in the practice of criminal justice and criminal justice research has its roots in problem-solving approaches to crime, though it extends much further. At the federal level, initiatives such as the Strategic Approaches to Community Safety Initiative (SACSI) and Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) did a great deal to push the paradigm shift ahead. These initiatives provided funding, leadership, training, and a methodology by which political jurisdictions, agencies, and communities could focus on problems of criminal justice in manageable ways. At the local level, the leadership of police chiefs in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston through initiatives such as COMPSTAT, the Boston Gun Project, and CAPS were important for engaging local law enforcement leaders. I had the opportunity to observe the leadership of the three editors of this volume firsthand, as a participant in both SACSI and PSN. When these initiatives began, I had worked with criminal justice and elected officials in St. Louis for nearly a quarter of a century. Despite the city’s reputation (and ranking) as one of the most violent cities in America, the four officials most integral to addressing the violence problem had never met on a regular basis. It is hard to fathom that the Police Chief, Prosecutor, U.S. Attorney, and Mayor in a city with rates of violence eight to ten times as high as national rates did not meet regularly to address the problem of violence. First SACSI and then PSN brought these four . . .

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