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NCJ Number: 74238 Find in a Library
Title: Policy Dilemma - Federal Crime Policy and the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration
Author(s): M M Feeley; A D Sarat
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 177
Sale Source: Criminologica Foundation
Augo de Grootstraat 27
Leiden,
Netherlands
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This book examines the background and functioning of LEAA and shows how its operation is shaped by and reflects the policy dilemma of trying to do too much and promising more than can be delivered in response to the public's demands to improve criminal justice.
Abstract: Conclusions are based on extensive interviews with Federal, State, and local officials responsible for implementing the Safe Streets Act, including members of 10 State planning agencies (SPA's). Two views of the policy dilemma are presented. One, identified with Theodore Lowi, emphasizes the failure of Congress to act decisively in making policy choices. The other, illustrated by the work of Jeffrey Pressman and Aaron Wildavsky, emphasizes the difficulty of administration even in the presence of clear choices. A study of the Safe Streets Act supports both views and notes the failure of the Safe Streets Act to outline specific goals and a strategy for achieving them. In addition, individual chapters examine LEAA's major mandates and describe the problems encountered in trying to achieve them. The first of these is the block grant approach to funding and the theory of comprehensive planning as a method of combating fragmentation in the criminal justice system. Comprehensive planning is deemed foreign to many State and local criminal justice officials. Consequently, the relatively weak SPA's with their small block grants are viewed as not being able to effectively graft a planning process onto the ongoing operations of strong and entrenched law enforcement agencies. A second mandate is innovation. It is reported that confusion about what kind of innovation is expected and what goal is to be reached has forced State planners to develop their own goals or delegate the responsibility to local agencies, thus creating a situation of multiple and competing views. The third mandate is evaluation. The interview data suggest that a number of obstacles impeded implementation and use of evaluation, including political, organizational, and technical or methodological ones. Overall, the failure of LEAA is said to be not only a failure of administration but also of concept and political theory. Changes are recommended that recognize the complexities of federalism and the reality of the crime problem. An index and 171 notes are provided.
Index Term(s): Crime Control Programs; Critiques; Federal government; Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA); Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act; Policy analysis
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