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NCJ Number: 74053 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Neighborhood Justice and the Elderly - Policy Issues
Author(s): R Hofrichter
Corporate Author: National Council of Senior Citizens
Criminal Justice and the Elderly Program
United States of America
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 158
Sponsoring Agency: National Council of Senior Citizens
Washington, DC 20005
National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
US Dept of Justice
Washington, DC 20531
Grant Number: 79-DF-AX-0134
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America

National Council of Senior Citizens
Criminal Justice and the Elderly Program
1511 K Street NW
Washington, DC 20005
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This is an exploratory policy study undertaken to identify and consider selected issues in the design and practice of neighborhood justice centers (NJC's) which may have implications for the elderly.
Abstract: NJC's offer significant possibilities for resolving certain types of interpersonal conflicts quickly, inexpensively, and efficiently. Moreover, the flexibility in the mediation and conciliation procedures and options allows disputants to uncover the roots of the conflict and generate their own creative solutions. For the elderly, who rarely find satisfaction in the confusing, time-consuming, and unresponsive judicial system, the NJC's offer a promising alternative. The present study involved a literature review as well as site visits and interviews at selected NJC programs serving a clientele which is more than 10 percent elderly, handling most major types of disputes, and offering special features (e.g., techniques for contacting senior citizens, use of home mediation). Special difficulties in service to the elderly include solving problems associated with explaining mediation, communicating positions, overcoming client fears, and obtaining assistance with the process and related service needs (e.g., transportation and flexible scheduling of hearings). For the elderly, disputant control over mediation is a potential means to reduce dependency and organize their lives. However, the elderly indicate that they, more than other age groups, desire punitive action, particularly when verbal abuse and harrassment are the issues -- even though the punitive action sought may be unrealistic. This attitude could be an insurmountable obstacle to more frequent use of NJC's by the elderly. Although the elderly appear to feel more confident with community-based mediation, monitoring and enforcement are essential issues for elderly persons who often worry about whether the other party will agree and what will happen if the agreement is violated. The role of the mediator is crucial in terms of specialized training, role perception, and personal values and biases. Mediation programs should make special efforts to offer services to elderly disputants, encourage them to bring a friend to the session for emotional support, and determine whether elderly respondents have unmet needs for social services. Mediator training should include information on the aging process and training in skills needed to deal effectively with elderly disputants. In addition, programs should evaluate the applicability of mediation to conflicts over business transactions, breach of contract, or consumer-merchant matters that do not involve purely personal relations. Appendixes provide lists of project sites visited and telephone interviews, brochures and program outlines from various NJC's, selected client evaluation forms, and sample cases. The Dispute Resolution Act (Public Law 96-190) and 50 references are also appended.
Index Term(s): Alternative dispute settlement; Conflict resolution; Dispute processing; Mediation; Neighborhood justice centers; Older Adults (65+)
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