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Misdemeanor Courts, Hope for Crime Weary America: Volunteer Mentoring in Misdemeanor Courts

NCJ Number
Keith J. Leenhouts
Date Published
January 2000
91 pages
This document explains the use and results of volunteer citizen probation programs in misdemeanor courts, presents case examples of the successful use of volunteers, and provides guidelines for the organization and implementation of volunteer programs in these courts.
The author is a former municipal and district court judge and the current director of court volunteer services for the National Judicial College. The first chapter reports a study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health that compared two misdemeanor courts. The court with routine probation experienced 270 convictions for 270 repeat misdemeanors for every 100 probationers over 5 years, whereas the court that used volunteers and community resources experienced only 23 repeat convictions. However, most misdemeanor courts have no probation or have such high caseloads that the probation officer meets with probationers only 1 day a week. The remaining chapters explain the uses of retired and currently working professionals and other volunteers for pre-sentence investigations, employment counseling, mental health services, victim services, administrative support, and other functions. It emphasizes the importance of volunteer spirit and outlines the steps involved in recruiting, selecting, training, supervising, and recognizing volunteers. Attached background information and resource request form