Collaboration Among Police and Prosecutors in Community Justice

Michele-Lynne Muni, Rutgers University

The catchall phrase regarding crime in urban areas in the past was, "nobody cares" and the system is ineffective. Politicians were among the first to realize that this could be used to political avantage. Barry Goldwater used this method in the 1964 presidential election. He was the first to address crime as a national problem on a political platform (Gest, 2002, p.5). President Johnson recognized the political savvy of Goldwater and when elected into office developed the first national plan in three decades to improve the criminal justice system and decrease crime. The report was named The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society (The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society 1967, pp. 93-114). The Report urged citizens to become more involved in law enforcement. Yet, police continually failed to ask citizens about neighborhood problems that were most pressing to them. It was not until the work of Herman Goldstein Problem Oriented Policing (1979) and George Kelling and James Q. Wilson in Broken Windows Theory (1982) that the community justice paradigm began to take hold. The new paradigm emphasized cooperation between agents of the government and citizens in proactive problem solving an crime prevention.

The literature is plentiful on the obstacles of implementation and potential benefits of community justice initiatives. However, one area where research is lacking is discussion on the reasons that collaboration between police, attorneys (both defense and prosecution) and citizens is important. This article is a literary analysis that brings together the benefits of collaboration between police, prosecutors, and citizens. The article traces the history of community prosecution, obstacles inherent to implementation, the benefits of collaboration, as well as ethical issues of community prosecution.

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Updated 05/20/2006