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NCJ Number: NCJ 179623     Find in a Library
Title: Defining the Problem
  Document URL: PDF 
Author(s): Robert V. Wolf
Corporate Author: Center for Court Innovation
United States of America
Date Published: 1999
Page Count: 13
  Annotation: This paper discusses the importance of and procedures for obtaining data about community problems that determine the focus of a community justice project, which is intended to provide problem solving resources for the community.
Abstract: Since the focus of all community justice projects is solving local crime and public safety problems, one of the foremost tasks for planners is to identify the key problems that the targeted neighborhood faces. The first step in identifying a community's problems is to go directly to the community, i.e., its leaders, its merchants, and its residents. Focus groups, surveys, individual interviews, and attendance at community meetings are all tools planners can use to determine how various segments of the community view what is wrong and right with the community. The second step is to obtain more specific data, including statistics on crime patterns and the disposition of cases. The third step for planners is to analyze how community problems are currently handled. This can involve interviews with key players, e.g., police, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, and probation officers. Data gathering can also involve first-hand observation by sitting in court, accompanying police officers on a ride-along, or being with a probation officer for a day. The intent of such data gathering is to look for inefficiencies and areas that call for improvement. After obtaining data on community problems, the task is to develop proposed solutions tailored to the problems. This is also done by soliciting ideas from members of the community and the criminal justice system. Planners should also look at other jurisdictions that have handled similar problems in creative ways. So far as possible, programs with proven success should be the first effort, so as to avoid debilitating trial and error.
Main Term(s): Misdemeanor courts
Index Term(s): Data collection devices ; Community involvement ; Data collection ; Program planning ; Neighborhood justice centers ; Needs assessment ; BJA grant-related documents
Sponsoring Agency: Bureau of Justice Assistance
US Dept of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
United States of America
Grant Number: 96-DD-BX-0090(S-1)
Sale Source: NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America

Center for Court Innovation
520 Eighth Avenue, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10018
United States of America
Type: Instructional Material
Country: United States of America
Language: English
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