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Key Differences Among Community Corrections Acts in the United States: An Overview

NCJ Number
Prison Journal Volume: 76 Issue: 2 Dated: (June 1996) Pages: 192-238
Date Published
47 pages

This study traces the evolution of Community Corrections Acts (CCAs), documents their similarities and differences, and identifies key issues to be addressed by policymakers and practitioners interested in refining or extending their use in the future.


The passage of CCAs in the early 1970s in Minnesota, Iowa, and Colorado foreshadowed similar developments in many other States over the ensuing two decades. CCAs are based in a commitment to avoiding the use of State prison and other punishments considered unduly harsh for offenders who could be guided and supervised safely in the community. Although most of the discussion in this article deals with CCAs and related developments since the early 1970s, these laws can be linked to a variety of other statutes and practices over a far longer time period. On the basis of a review of the development and evolution of CCAs in the United States, this paper offers the following definition: "A Community Corrections Act is a statewide mechanism included in legislation for involving citizens and granting funds to local units of government and community agencies to plan, to develop, and to deliver correctional sanctions and services at the local level." A table shows the features of the Minnesota, Colorado, Iowa, and "Southern" models of CCAs. The features described address goals, nature and scope, local structure, funding, and target population. Another table lists the dimensions of "community" in discussions of community corrections. Other issues compared for the States are the decentralization of authority from the State to local levels, citizen participation in program planning and policymaking, the deinstitutionalization of offenders, and the emphasis on rehabilitation through community programs. For officials considering adoption or major revision of a CCA, analysis of the most significant variables that define and distinguish among the models provides a basis for choosing the characteristics that best fit the context. 8 tables, an appended list of CCAs by State and additional statutes some analysts consider to be CCAs, 5 notes, and 4 references

Date Published: January 1, 1996