Sep 1, 2010

Trial and Error in Criminal Justice Reform

Because there are so many components to pioneering criminal justice reform, it is difficult to label any one program a success or failure. Instead we must take a closer look in order to learn from those who have come before us.

A new book titled Trial and Error in Criminal Justice Reform, written by Greg Berman, Director of the Center for Court Innovation (CCI) and Aubrey Fox, Director of Special Projects at CCI, examines this concept in depth.

In the book, Berman and Fox highlight the following key principles:
  1. Importance of Self-Reflection- Criminal justice officials must conduct ongoing analysis and evaluation to see what is and is not working, and make adjustments as needed.
  2. There are a Myriad of Goals in Criminal Justice Reform- While reducing crime is central to all programs, there are a wide range of objectives that programs also aim to achieve. A few examples: solving underlying problems of defendants, improving public trust and confidence in justice, reducing case processing time, and increasing restorative justice.
  3. Understanding the Local Context- There is no cookie cutter approach. Ideas and programs must take into account the players and the issues facing the community, and customize programs accordingly.
  4. Including All Levels of Administration- It is crucial to get buy-in from all levels of government. Success can not be achieved if those on the ground implementing these programs do not believe in them and have the ability to alter aspects of the program to suit their needs.
  5. Realistic Expectations are Essential- Individuals involved in the criminal justice system face a multitude of problems and helping them get on the right track and ultimately stop committing crimes is a large task. It is important that reformers have real expectations about what they will be able to achieve.

Pick up a copy of this book at Urban Institute Press.

No comments: