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Prosecutors, Jobs, and Crime (From Crime & Employment: Critical Issues in Crime Reduction for Corrections, P 5-12, 2004, Jessie L. Krienert and Mark S. Fleisher, eds. -- See NCJ-209355)

NCJ Number
Douglas S. Weiner
Date Published
This paper discusses the features of community prosecution, with attention to efforts to promote employment and deter crime.
The author, a prosecutor in Cuyahoga County, OH, recounts his experiences and perspectives in promoting community prosecution in East Cleveland. His initial efforts involved direct dialog with community residents, which revealed their skepticism about prosecutors' interests in improving the quality of their lives rather than convicting and punishing their residents. Further, they made consistent reference to employment as a top priority for residents, a need which they considered irrelevant to the prosecutor's job description. The author encountered variations on these themes across the county in blue-collar, White ethnic neighborhoods and middle-income Hispanic communities. The recurring theme was "If you want this city safer, then let's talk about jobs." The author notes, however, that in his view labor market conditions are not the only or even necessarily the primary factor in crime rates. He rates it fourth behind a strong family or other social network, a higher education, and deep religious or moral convictions. He argues, however, that having a job does help prevent criminal behavior because it occupies a person's time and energy, thus reducing the time and energy for committing crime; it provides income to reduce the need to commit acquisitive crimes; leads to assets that one does not want to lose through risky criminal behavior; provides a generally positive prosocial network of legitimate employment; and offers hope for a better life. The community prosecution advocated by the author targets specific areas for long-term, proactive partnerships among prosecutors' offices, police, the community, and public and private organizations for the purpose of improving public safety and enhancing the quality of life in the community. 3 references