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Community Justice: An Essay

NCJ Number
Corrections Management Quarterly Volume: 2 Issue: 3 Dated: Summer 1998 Pages: 49-60
Date Published
12 pages

The concept of community justice involves a basic rethinking of the justice model to make justice more responsive to and more inviting of the community being served; thus, it is not a special project attached to the everyday operations of the formal justice system.


Community justice can be illustrated by means of a scenario involving the fictional inner-city neighborhood of Jackson Heights (JH). JH consists of about 100 square blocks that contain public housing complexes, a small business section, and a public school complex. The JH Community Justice Center (CJC) is located across the street from the police precinct and is operated by a nonprofit organization. It operates varied programs, including crime prevention, recreation, victim awareness, offender community service, after-school activities, and dispute settlement. These project operate through partnerships with existing organizations and citizen volunteers. The CJC provides assessment and structured supervision services for all offenders in JH. Offenders must take responsibility for the offense, perform restitution and symbolic acts to undo the effects of the offense on the victim and the community, and make affirmative actions that give other citizens a reason to believe that the offender's crimes will not recur. The victim has a central role, but has less burdensome tasks. The community clarifies local standards. The CJC assists victims, offenders, and communities in performing their tasks. The CJC also works closely with the criminal justice system. This scenario is only one of several options; all involve a professional organization, a participating community, a sympathetic justice system, sufficient crime to make the arrangement financially feasible, and imagination and a willingness to experiment. 1 reference

Date Published: January 1, 1998