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Crime Commission Concept - Some Sociological Observations

NCJ Number
Free Inquiry Volume: 1 Issue: 1 Dated: (May 1976) Pages: 53-62
A S Freedman
Date Published
10 pages
This paper describes crime commissions from a sociological perspective; composition, purpose, expectations of outsiders, effectiveness, and role in the criminal justice system are considered.
The crime commission may be viewed as an institutional agency with a mission. From a positive perspective the commission means citizens working with law enforcement agencies, primarily the police and the court system. From a negative viewpoint, the commission is obligated to question the autonomy and integrity of these components at times. The overall function of a local crime commisssion is to make recommendations to the city or county officials with regard to law enforcement and crime prevention activities. There may be some liaison between local and State commissions, and in some instances the Federal Government may be involved. Responses to an informal public opinion poll focusing on crime commissions revealed that some citizens know nothing about the concept, some believe that those who serve must have appropriate law enforcement or similar backgrounds, and that other individuals felt that the best policy was to have nothing to do with the law. Occupation was the key indicator of respondent willingness to volunteer for commission service; practicing attorneys with experience in citizens' groups were positive about crime commissions. In addition, the majority of law enforcement officers were in favor of such groups. At present, the concept remains amorphous, extra legal, and not crucial for good government. The paper includes seven references.