Community service is one criminal sanction that involves both offenders in communities and communities in criminal justice. These themes have become popularized in recent years, yet much is still unknown about how community service works in practice and the offenders involved. Despite potential benefits to offenders, communities, and criminal justice systems this lack of information may be contributing to the limited use of community service as an intermediate sanction. This paper presents survey research of community service in Texas, one of the largest criminal justice systems in the nation. It documents such information as the function, operation, and structures of programs, characteristics of offenders ordered to community service, the amount and nature of community service work, measures of program effectiveness, and problems associated with the sanction. The findings will enhance a limited literature and should assist in the study of community service sentencing.
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