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Justice Department Bulletin Highlights Progress of Partnerships in Eight U.S. Cities

WASHINGTON, DC - Collaborative efforts among key criminal justice agencies are making the court system work better, according to a new study released by the Justice Department. When the prosecution, defense, and courts work out practical solutions to complex, system-wide problems such as backlogged dockets, crowded jails, and recidivism of drug-addicted offenders, the end result is improving the quality of justice and potentially changing the adjudication process as it is known today.

Key Elements of Successful Adjudication Partnerships, published by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), provides general information about adjudication partnerships and describes the critical elements essential to establishing successful partnerships.

"Local and state criminal justice systems are under ongoing pressure to operate more efficiently and effectively without lessening the quality of their services," said Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson of the Office of Justice Programs (OJP). "These collaborative relationships among the system parts help a community deliver justice more effectively and efficiently."

The bulletin provides practical information to enable jurisdictions to learn from their counterparts' experiences. Highlighted are a drug court in Buffalo, NY; an early felony disposition program in Los Angeles, CA; intermediate sanctions task forces in Cedar Rapids, IA, and Hastings, MN; a jail utilization planning team in Rochester, NY; a juvenile drug treatment court in San Jose, CA; a juvenile justice restitution and mediation project in Wilmington, DE; and a criminal justice council in Corvallis, OR.

For example, to address the growing juvenile crime problem in Santa Clara County, CA, the presiding judge of the juvenile court contacted representatives from other juvenile justice agencies to develop a juvenile drug treatment program. The resulting court, which began operation in 1996, provides alcohol and drug treatment services to juvenile offenders. It has a success rate of approximately 90 percent. The partnership continues to expand the services of the juvenile drug court and has engaged the local YMCA, which provides group counseling for teens and parents and training in life and job-seeking skills.

In another example, a superior court judge and municipal court judge in the Central District of Los Angeles County initiated an informal adjudication partnership, the Early Felony Disposition Program (LA Fast), to expedite the disposition of less serious, nonviolent, first-time felony offenders in municipal court. Working with the district attorney, public defenders, the sheriff and representatives from pretrial services, the partnership met regularly to review the court's research on offenders and the trial calender backlog to develop a program to expedite proceedings. These modified procedures resulted in the adjudication of cases within 3 days of arraignment and has removed between 300 and 500 felony cases per month from the superior court docket. Because of the program's considerable success, similar early disposition programs have been started in Los Angeles County.

Key Elements of Successful Adjudication Partnerships was researched and written through a cooperative effort by the American Prosecutors Research Institute (APRI), the National Center of State Courts, and the National Legal Aid and Defender association, under a grant provided by the Office of Justice Program's BJA.

The full report is available online at Printed copies of the report are available by calling the BJA Clearinghouse at 1-800/688-4252. Additional information about BJA or its programs is available at: Additional information on OJP and its programs is at:

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For additional information, contact Doug Johnson at 202/616-3559 or Sheila Jerusalem at