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Preventive Function of the Courts (From Handbook on Crime and Delinquency Prevention, P 157-178, 1987, Elmer H Johnson, ed. - See NCJ-105398)

NCJ Number
N T Wolfe
Date Published
22 pages
Courts achieve crime prevention through deterrence by prosecution and punishment and the reduction of criminal behavior through treatment and services.
At all of its decision points, courts seek a balance between often conflicting principles: public safety and the minimization of criminogenic influences on defendants and convicted offenders. The decision regarding pretrial detention is an example of this conflict. Pretrial detention may prevent a defendant from committing a crime prior to trial, but this same detention subjects the defendant to the criminogenic influences of the inmate subculture. A better balance between the principles of public protection and the reduction of criminogenic influences on offenders and defendants can be achieved by supplying the judge with more information relevant to the decision. Diversion by the courts is designed to reduce criminogenic influences on the offender while providing sufficiently restrictive and demanding conditions to achieve some deterrent effect, and sentencing can achieve the same dual purpose, providing its effects are carefully measured. Court services that can contribute to crime prevention are victim services that can encourage victim cooperation to gain convictions and help victims resolve victimization effects that may subsequently contribute to the victim's committing a crime. Family courts are also concerned about curtailing child abuse and neglect, which may be a criminogenic factor for victims. Other court crime prevention measures are encouragement of the use of alternative dispute resolution and education programs. 62 notes and 14-item bibliography.