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Your Day in Court

NCJ Number
W SollnerCurtis D
Date Published
0 pages
Using the case of Kansas City, Mo., as an example, this film discusses the urgent necessity of court reform and what citizens can do to help this endeavor.
The attorney general for Missouri narrates the film. During the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. of every working day, each judge of the municipal court of Kansas City hears over 200 cases. According to the American Bar Association (ABA) standards, no judge should have more than 90 cases a day. The ABA standards for probation officers state that these personnel should handle only 50 cases at any one time, but in Kansas City, they have 200 cases per officer. Much of the court's caseload is taken up with repeat offenders. One judge remarks that the municipal court has no arrangements for examination and treatment of persons who are incompetent and must stand trial and that the court is compromising such defendants' constitutional rights. The film also shows the crowded conditions of the city's correctional institution and notes that similar conditions prevail throughout the country. Two programs that have met with noteworthy results are Kansas City's first offender program, for first offenders ages 17-25; and the drunk offender program, which uses ex-drunks to help other alcoholics rehabilitate themselves. The former program provides counseling, employment opportunities, and other treatment for young offenders who have never been in trouble with the law before. If they successfully complete the program, their records will be eradicated. The latter program helps those alcoholics who are motivated from within themselves to become sober. The film concludes with suggestions on how citizens can help implement court reform through participating in volunteer court-watching programs, teaching children the importance of obeying and understanding laws serving on jury duty, and convening a citizens' conference on court reform. The final action must be legislation to streamline court practices.


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