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NIJ Survey of Prosecutors

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 1995
2 pages
Publication Series
As part of the 1994 National Assessment Program of the National Institute of Justice, questionnaires were sent to more than 3,300 criminal justice professionals in 13 types of agencies in 411 counties nationwide to assess workload problems and initiatives of prosecutors.
The survey included 211 counties with populations greater than 250,000, along with a random sample of 200 counties with populations between 50,000 and 250,000. Responses were received between October 1993 and February 1994 from 2,585 persons, for a response rate of 69 percent. When asked to rate the extent to which violent crime, including assault, homicide, rape, domestic violence, and child abuse, contributed to workload problems in their offices, about 92 percent of prosecutors indicated child abuse was the primary contributor because these difficult cases required more time to prosecute. Ranking a close second was domestic violence. In domestic violence cases, prosecutors said victims often lost interest in prosecuting the offender and this resulted in a large number of dismissals. More than 90 percent of prosecutors said drug possession and drug sales were also causes of workload problems primarily because of the increase in the number of cases handled. About 93 percent said that, to expedite case processing, drug treatment programs had been instituted as an alternative sanction, but 82 percent said these programs needed improvement. Approximately 58 percent of prosecutors in large jurisdictions claimed that gang-related crimes contributed to their workload problems, compared to 33 percent of prosecutors in small jurisdictions who said they had gang problems. Prosecutors gave mixed reviews to various alternatives to incarceration. They were most dissatisfied with boot camps; about 56 percent of jurisdictions with work release centers indicated that the centers needed improvement, and 64 percent of jurisdictions with electronic monitoring programs said the programs needed improvement. Many prosecutors noted that the lack of information systems or inadequate information systems created problems in their offices. Prosecutors cited alternative sanctions, juvenile crime, and violent crime as the three areas they recommended for future research and evaluation studies.

Date Published: May 1, 1995