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I would argue that the community justice movement is popular because it seems like an approach that can actually reduce crime and other problems in ways that are not as harmful as our traditional criminal justice system is. I would speculate that the movement will continue to be popular unless crime rates start to rise and people become frightened of crime and criminals as they were in past decades.
The community justice movement seems to promise a better system of criminal justice. Our traditional system focuses on the offender. It tries to determine how bad the offender’s actions have been and to punish him or her accordingly. It is not concerned in any formal way with the impacts that its actions have on the community. This makes it seem less helpful than the community justice model.
The community justice model focuses on helping communities. Its major goal is to make communities safer and healthier, not to apprehend and punish individual offenders. This makes it popular because it focuses on what people really want. People tend to want to live in safe communities more than they want to catch and punish individuals. They would rather prevent crime than allow it to happen and then punish offenders after the fact. In addition, community justice programs allow members of the community to have input and agency, rather than simply forcing them to accept the actions of a criminal justice system over which they have no control. For these reasons, this model has become popular.
I would speculate that this model will continue to be popular unless we experience an increase in crime rates. When crime rates rise, voters tend to start worrying about this issue. They tend to think that harsher sanctions, administered through the traditional criminal justice system, are needed. These voters tend to be people who do not live in the most affected areas and simply want the criminals kept away from them. If crime rates rise, these people will pressure the government to stop using community justice systems that are “soft” on crime.
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