Community Justice Resources

Group of teenagers gather and talk on front porch

Community justice refers to crime prevention and other precautionary activities operated by civilians, such as neighborhood watch groups and youth programs, that take place in communities as a means of preventing a number of offenses. Those who graduate with their bachelor’s in criminal justice may help form some of these programs, as the expertise of someone with a criminal justice degree can help in important matters and lead to better ideas being shared. Well-established community justice programs may also influence court decisions and other matters that have to do with sentencing or probation as the community takes on the role of a partial corrective force.

The basics of community justice

The framework of community justice programs: Gathering people together to spark citizens’ interest in their neighborhood is the first step in establishing a community justice program. Once proper discussion has begun, a law enforcement official who may have a criminology degree and is trained to specialize in this area can provide insight and fine-tune the procedures.

How community justice helps: A community justice program or initiative can help promote secure neighborhoods, which may lead to less illegal activity in these areas. In addition, this type of program can help rehabilitate those who have committed criminal acts by involving them in the community and helping offenders realize that there is some value in staying clean.

The idea behind community justice: Gathering people with a common interest in reducing crime and helping punish offenders in a proper way is the inherent value of community justice. But this type of work does not happen overnight, as these types of organizations require active participation among members who are organized in a democratic manner.

Problem solving: Establishing initiatives such as a neighborhood watch, which help communities keep an eye on one another, can help cut down on the number of robberies that occur. According to the Bureau of Justice Assistance, organizations such as community courts have cut down on crime, reduced recidivism, and increased the services provided to victims.

Balanced approaches to community justice: It can be difficult to get many different types of people together and expect them to agree on certain subjects. This is why many successful community justice programs have used someone with a criminal justice or criminology degree as a mediator and organizer.

Principles in community justice: Sticking to basic principles is one aspect of creating and maintaining a good community justice program. A great example of this occurred in New York City in the early 1990s where a neighborhood-based court in Manhattan helped lower the rate of minor offenses with the assistance of the community.

Community justice’s future: Experts seem to agree on community justice being the future of law enforcement for minor criminal activities. Many of these organizations work behind the scenes and seek to analyze the reasons why crimes happen and what they can do to prevent these offenses from occurring in the future.

Community justice methods and applications

Community justice in the rural U.S.: As criminal activity has slowly risen in rural communities, so has the attention on creating community justice programs in these environments. A study performed by the Bureau of Justice Assistance shows that in four isolated examples, community justice was able to reduce crime.

Global positioning satellite (GPS) technology and community justice: GPS technology that attaches to a criminal can help provide an inexpensive alternative to incarceration, according to the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services in South Carolina. Those who stay out of prison, but are monitored, can still work and provide assistance to the community.

Gangs: Community justice can reach out to teenagers, since most gangs are made up of younger people, and attempt to prevent them from entering a gang. Adolescents can be impressionable, and affecting them in a positive way early on can be a great method of crime prevention. Individuals may study various ways to prevent gangs in criminal justice degree programs.

Community justice organizations

Community Justice Center of Jackson County, Oregon: This organization helps provide parole and probation services, as well as juvenile services, to the residents of Jackson County, Oregon. The community justice center helps others establish neighborhood watch groups and works alongside law enforcement agencies. Criminal justice degree seekers may find that their cities or towns have similar organizations.

The Center for Community Justice: This agency states that crime is best resolved in the community and that members of neighborhoods have the right to partake in activities that affect where they live.

Native American Communities Justice Project: This project, which was launched in early 2009, seeks to reduce the amount of crime among Native American communities in California. Decreasing family violence was a major goal in this initiative.

Community Justice for Youth Institute: Established in 1997 by two child law attorneys, this justice center created the first juvenile court diversion program in Chicago. The members of this organization work alongside law enforcement and communities to help reduce criminal activities among youth and resolve conflicts.