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American Bar Association Standards for Criminal Justice - Their Development, Evolution and Future

NCJ Number
Denver Law Journal Volume: 59 Issue: 1 Dated: (1981) Pages: 3-23
K J Hobson
Date Published
21 pages
This article focuses on the historical background of the American Bar Association (ABA) Standards for Criminal Justice and the impact of the standards on the administration of criminal justice.
Publication of the first edition of the standards in 1973 represented the culmination of a 10-year effort undertaken by the the American Law Institute in conjunction with the Institute of Judicial Administration. The goal of the standards was to articulate acceptable standards for the administration of criminal justice. Impetus for standards development was found in rising crime rates, overwhelming caseloads, recidivism, and seeming incapacity of the system to respond to the challenges of the 1960's. A total of 17 sets of standards were eventually approved by the ABA House of Delegates and Board of Governors. The impact of U.S. Supreme Court decisions and new competing standards, such as those developed by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, necessitated reassessment of the first editions's materials. Revision was facilitated by evaluation of data gained from such experiments as pretrial release projects, speedy trial statutes and court rules, public defender offices, and police legal advisor units. The second edition was published in 1979. The new standards will have a significant impact on the law. In addition, the ABA is in the process of developing Criminal Justice Mental Health Standards. A total of 37 footnotes are provided.


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