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NCJ Number
Date Published
39 pages
A 1969 Pennsylvania Crime Commission report gives the crime situation and outlines the major problems faced by the components of the local criminal justice delivery system, identifying weaknesses, strengths, and goals.
Crime statistics are inadequate in measuring actual crime incidence: they only indicate crime trends. However, statistics can help evaluate the general effectiveness of a criminal justice delivery system in such areas as law enforcement, courts, and corrections. Pennsylvania's metropolitan areas have a high incidence of all types of crime, against persons as well as against property. Violent crimes against persons (e.g., murder, rape, aggravated assault), widely publicized by the mass media, create a sometimes inordinate fear of crime, unfavorably impacting on citizens' lifestyles and the quality of life. Suburban areas too are affected by crime increases, especially juvenile drug-related offenses. Juveniles account for a disproportionate amount of both urban and suburban crime. Professional crime, white-collar, and organized crime pose often insoluble problems to the law enforcement and criminal justice resources. The arrest rate in Pennsylvania for all types of crimes is approximately 22 percent. The areas of greatest weakness in the criminal justice delivery system are obsolescence, excessive case load, fragmentation, disorganization, lack of planning, scarcity of funds, and dehumanizing effects of correctional systems on convicted offenders, as well as on suspects detained in county jails because of inability to post bail. Unfairness to poor defendants results essentially from the bargaining nature of criminal justice, requiring clever defense counsel and financial resources on the defendants' part. The criminal justice system also has assets, including the quality of its personnel; a constitutional revision in the direction of court system unification; Federal funding under the 1968 Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act; and interdisciplinary assistance by other professions (e.g., medicine, sociology, engineering, operations research, and systems analysis). Future goals include swifter and more decisive justice, which will assure rights of victims and witnesses, guarantee human rights, and activate citizens' interest.