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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77385 Find in a Library
Title: Working the Damned, the Dumb, and the Destitute - The Politics of Community Service Restitution (From Misdemeanor Courts - Policy Concerns and Research Perspectives, P 196-244, 1980, James J Alfini, ed. - See NCJ-77379)
Author(s): C W Grau; J Kahn
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 38
Type: Program/Project Evaluation
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Findings and implications are discussed from a study of the community service restitution (CSR) program of a Tacoma, Wash., misdemeanor court.
Abstract: The court instituted CSR in 1977 as a judicial sentencing alternative to fines and jail. While judges determined who was sentenced to CSR, the probation department found agencies to take CSR referrals and referred offenders to the agencies. This study surveys general sentencing practices in the court, analyzes the social and legal correlates of sentencing, and examines the work performed by CSR referrals. Findings show that the sentencing of offenders to CSR is influenced by a number of legal and social factors. Offenders convicted of driving while intoxicated are unlikely to receive CSR sentencing, while young, indigent, and other low-income offenders who are not employed full-time are more likely to be sentenced to CSR. Judges openly admit that low-income is a criterion for sentencing to CSR, since it is an alternative to fines for offenders unable to pay them. As a misdemeanor court, only about 7 percent of those convicted are jailed; the practical alternatives to CSR, therefore, are fines and probation. Evidence that CSR is beneficial to offenders is thin. The agencies involved reported as many negative as positive consequences. CSR rarely increases the likelihood of improved employment options for participants, since most of the assigned work is janitorial and clerical with government agencies. Further, by farming out the tasks of discipline and punishment to agencies outside the legal system, the court qualitatively expanded the State's social control apparatuses. Tabular data, 6 notes, and 42 references are provided. Study instruments and methodology are appended. (Author abstract modified)
Index Term(s): Community service order; Discrimination; Misdemeanor; Program evaluation; Restitution programs; Sentencing/Sanctions; Washington
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