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Philadelphia Community Court Evaluation Final Report: Outcome/Impact Analysis and Update on Process Evaluation

NCJ Number
234141
Author(s)
Fred Cheesman, Ph.D.; David Rottman, Ph.D.; Sarah Gibson; Mary Durkin; Scott Maggard, Ph.D.; Tracy Sohoni; Dawn Rubio, Esq.; Ric Curtis, Ph.D.
Date Published
September 2010
Length
81 pages
Annotation
This report presents the methodology and findings of the evaluation of the outcome and implementation of the Philadelphia Community Court (PCC), which was established to process "quality-of-life" crimes, such as vandalism, prostitution, disorderly conduct, and minor thefts.
Abstract
Five objectives were specified for the PCC when it began operations on February 2, 2002. First, reduce the number of quality-of-life crimes. Second, develop a system of supervised community service so those who are convicted can repay the communities they have harmed. Third, influence the nature and degree of recidivism among those who commit quality-of-life crimes by addressing their underlying behavioral problems through social services. Fourth, reduce the volume of cases in the criminal justice system by assigning low-level offenders to diversionary programs. Fifth, effectively punish repeat offenders and bring offenders before the PCC for punishment or treatment for low-level crimes. After just over 8 years of operation, the outcome/impact phase of the evaluation found that many offenders/potential offenders were unaware of the PCC or were unable to distinguish it from other courts. There were also high rates of substance abuse, homelessness, and other problems facing those served by the PCC. This suggests the need for continued development of a variety of services that will address these and other criminogenic needs of this population. Sanctions for noncompliance have rarely been imposed by the PCC, which reduces the potential to promote behavioral change in participants. In addition, the PCC needs a case management system and database, as well as a system that will ensure data are being entered in the database. Regarding the PCC's implementation, it would have been strengthened by having the Municipal Court be a fully vested partner in this effort from the beginning of the planning process. 4 tables, 4 figures, 11 references, and appended recommendations and analytical methodology