In the 1994 National Assessment Program conducted by the National Institute of Justice, questionnaires were sent to more than 3,300 criminal justice professionals in 13 types of agencies in 411 counties nationwide to identify their workload problems and initiatives to solve them and to obtain information on special concerns and needs.
The sample included 211 counties with populations greater than 250,000, along with a random sample of 200 counties with populations between 50,000 and 250,000. Responses were received between October 1993 and February 1994 from 2,545 persons, for a response rate of 69 percent. The 2,545 persons included judges, trial court administrators (TCAs), and State court administrators (SCAs). Drug-related cases led the list of workload problems faced by judges, TCAs, and SCAs. When judges were asked which crimes contributed to workload problems in their courts, about 84 percent cited domestic violence, homicide, and drug possession as principal contributors. Most judges and TCAs said their jurisdictions had drug treatment programs, although most felt the programs needed improvement. Boot camps had been established in the jurisdictions of 82 percent of the judges and 63 percent of the TCAs. Of these respondents, about half said the programs needed improvement. Judges and TCAs indicated relatively strong support for work release centers. The use of drug courts was cited as one way of alleviating the workload problems associated with drug-related cases. Of the TCAs, 13 percent said they had special courts in their jurisdictions. The need for better information systems was of special concern to judges and TCAs. Judges, TCAs, and SCAs all recommended alternative sanctions and case management as key topics for further research and evaluation.
Date Published: May 1, 1995