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Quantitative output of the criminal justice system

Case processing indicators for the United States, 1953–1976


Time series trends in the processing of the seven major Index Offenses are assessed over the years 1953–76. Five types of offense-standardized criminal justice processing indicators are defined (arrest, clearance, formal charge, guilty-as-charged, and guilty-but-reduced rates or ratios) and calculated. Comparing patterns over time to evaluate overall processing trends, these data indicate generally positive correlations of processing indicators over the period studied and confirm the hypothesized decline in processing input-output rates and ratios since about 1960. The hypothesized impact of crime rates and juvenile arrest percentage upon these trends is supported generally by structural equation and difference equation analysis. Our analysis indicates that much of the processing trend indeed can be explained in terms of caseload pressures and the proportion of juvenile arrests which drive down the ‘performance’ of the examined processing indicators.

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The authors are indebted to Randall Pletcher for technical assistance in the preparation of the data used here. Funding for the research reported here was provided by National Institute for Mental Health grant 1-ROL-MH31117-01.

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Felson, M., Cohen, L.E. Quantitative output of the criminal justice system. Soc Indic Res 9, 61–83 (1981).

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  • Criminal Justice
  • Difference Equation
  • Justice System
  • Criminal Justice System
  • Crime Rate