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NCJ Number: 82123 Find in a Library
Title: Criminalization and Decriminalization in Soviet Criminal Policy, 1917-1941
Journal: Law and Society Review  Volume:16  Issue:1  Dated:(1981-1982)  Pages:9-43
Author(s): P H Solomon
Date Published: 1982
Page Count: 35
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The Bolshevik experiment in decriminalization and diversion -- its causes, its politics, and its consequences for the courts and alternatives to them -- is examined.
Abstract: By eliminating the alternatives to the courts which had handled many petty infractions in Tsarist times, the Bolsheviks forced upon their own people's courts near-total responsibility for imposing sanctions. The resulting criminalization of petty offenses so congested the courts that the authorities were forced to reconsider and find alternatives. By stages they decriminalized many petty offenses and transferred them to new variants of alternatives to the courts which had been used by the Tsars: administrative procedure and lay courts. The village social courts (like their prerevolutionary predecessors, the volost courts) worked, because they handled cases no other body could and had both clientele and constituency. The comrades' courts, on the other hand, especially after they became labor discipline tribunals, lacked the success ingredients of the village social courts, and so they faltered. Overall, the diversion approach freed the courts of many cases; however, the unused court capacity was replenished with other kinds of cases. The court alternatives were later rejected when Stalin sought to use the law to impose new order upon government and society. The Russian experience tends to confirm the thesis that the amount of crime prosecuted in a society is a function of the capacity of its criminal justice institutions. A total of 117 references are provided. (Author summary modified)
Index Term(s): Alternative dispute settlement; Decriminalization; Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
Note: Prepared for presentation at the Second World Congress of Soviet and East European Studies, Garmisch, Germany, October 1980
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