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Implementing a National Crime Control Program - The Case of an Economic Crime Unit (From Implementing Criminal Justice Policies, P 33-46, 1982, Merry Morash, ed. - See NCJ-88296)

NCJ Number
J N Gurney
Date Published
14 pages
The goals of a national project can easily become subordinated to the more immediate concerns of the local agency carrying them out, as shown by the results from a local economic crime unit (ECU).
The ECU was part of a nationwide project aimed at increasing the effectiveness of prosecution of such economic crimes as repair and merchandising frauds. The project began in 1973 using 15 pilot programs. The national guidelines specified that cases involving disadvantaged victims such as the elderly, poor, and minorities were to receive special attention since these were most likely to be harmed by economic crime and least likely to be able to protect themselves. Information from case reports, observations, interviews, and document reviews formed the basis of an assessment of one local unit's compliance with the guidelines. The ECU did not adhere very closely to either the guidelines by the national project or the criteria for case acceptance stated by its own staff. The unit did not give top priority to repair and merchandising swindles, did not emphasize cases involving multiple victims, and did not give special attention to cases involving disadvantaged victims. In addition, the ECU did not investigate or prosecute cases involving major sums. Instead, it concentrated on small-time welfare cheaters, most of whom were members of disadvantaged groups. These actions resulted both from the large numbers of cases presented by the welfare department and from the prosecutor's immediate goal of gaining large numbers of convictions to demonstrate successful job performance. Policymakers need to recognize that local agencies may selectively transform national directives to fit with preexisting arrangements. Tables, notes, and a list of seven references are included.