Justice Is the Crime: Pretrial Delay in Felony Cases

By Lewis Katz; Lawrence Litwin et al. | Go to book overview

3 /
THE DECISION TO CHARGE: A PROTRACTED PROCESS

Many Americans believe that if they witness a crime, all they have to do is notify the police and the criminal will be arrested, prosecuted, and convicted. Few are aware of how involved they, as witnesses, will become in the process and how great their inconvenience will be.1 They soon realize that the mere witnessing of a crime will not automatically result in the conviction and incarceration of the criminal. The police will not arrest for every violation, notwithstanding the existence of statutorily imposed duties to arrest, nor will they even respond to every crime reported.2 This may come as a shock to most white suburban Americans, but not to the residents of inner-city, black ghettos.3

____________________
1
"Every day the court backlogs leave innocent men in jails and guilty ones on the streets. Witnesses and victims wait hours for cases that are never called. The claims and causes of the injured remain unheard." N. Y. Times, Mar. 8, 1971, at 1, col. 3.
2
"The police must make important judgments about what conduct is in fact criminal; about the allocation of scarce resources; and about the gravity of each individual incident and the proper steps that should be taken." PRESIDENT'S COMMISSION ON LAW ENFORCEMENT AND ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE, TASK FORCE REPORT: THE POLICE 14( 1967) [hereinafter cited as THE POLICE ].
3
Cf. Byrn, Urban Law Enforcement: A Plea from the Ghetto, 5 CRIM. L. BULL. 125, 128 ( 1969). Mayor Lindsay's Criminal Justice Coordinating Council found that the disparity in the amount of crime reported in various sections of the city (e.g., fifty times more reported violent felonies in the North Harlem section than in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn) was tremendous. He added, "To create the level of security in North Harlem that exists in Bay Ridge, 98 percent of the crime in North Harlem would have to be eliminated." The report cited a lack of cooperation among the various agencies responsible for criminal justice in the city: police, prosecutors, courts, probation and parole agencies, and the jails. N. Y. Times, Mar. 14, 1971, at 1, col. 6.

-89-

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Justice Is the Crime: Pretrial Delay in Felony Cases
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Contents *
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Origins Of the American Criminal Justice System 7
  • 2 - Delay In The Courts 35
  • 3 - The Decision To Charge: A Protracted Process 89
  • 4 - Bail 137
  • 5 - Indictment To Trial 177
  • Conclusion 217
  • Appendixes 223
  • Appendix A - Court Statistics 225
  • Appendix B - State Pretrial Criminal Procedure 247
  • Bibliography 367
  • Index 381
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