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Process Is the Punishment: Handling Cases in a Lower Criminal Court (From Criminal Justice System: Politics and Policies, Seventh Edition, P 319-330, 1998, George F. Cole and Marc G. Gertz, eds -- See NCJ-185991)

NCJ Number
Malcolm M. Feeley
Date Published
12 pages
Many observers of lower criminal courts are impressed by the fact that sentences seem to be lenient, and a study of the Court of Common Pleas in New Haven, Connecticut, shows that punishment given out by the judge is not the only cost imposed by the criminal justice system.
The article develops the argument that, in lower criminal courts, the process itself is the primary punishment. Costs involved in the pretrial process are identified and ways in which they affect court organization and the manner in which a defendant proceeds through the court system are examined. The author discusses pretrial release, the process of securing an attorney (private counsel versus public defender), continuances, failure to appear, and pretrial diversion. He concludes the real punishment for many defendants is the pretrial process itself, and this is why defendants invoke so few adversarial options available to them. 4 notes and 2 tables