Continuing the Struggle for Justice: 100 Years of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency


Edited by: Barry Krisberg, Susan Marchionna & Christopher Baird

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  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Part I: The Views from NCCD's Five Presidents

    Part II: The Need for a Separate System of Justice for Children

    Part III: Alternatives to Mass Incarceration

    Part IV: Breaking the Cycle of Violence

    Part V: The Link between Social Justice and Criminal Justice

    Part VI: Conclusion: Continuing the Struggle for Justice

  • Copyright

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    Preface: Continuing the Struggle for Justice: The Legacy

    A Brief History of an American Institution

    The National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) was founded on June 17, 1907, by 14 probation officers who met at Plymouth Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They were attending the annual meeting of the National Conference of Charities and Correction. This first meeting was an exploration of whether it was time to organize a professional association to advance the emerging field of probation. The leading force behind this meeting was Timothy D. Hurley, a Chicago lawyer and key participant in the movement to create the first juvenile court in America. He later served as Chicago's first probation officer.

    In 1907, Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States (there were only 46 states at the time), and the nation was still confronting unresolved issues from the Civil War. Legally sanctioned racial segregation was the norm. Lynching of African Americans and other racial minorities was epidemic. The United States was accumulating colonies in the Pacific, the Caribbean, and Central America. Women were permitted to vote in only four sparsely populated western states and not yet in federal elections. The Congress had passed a number of laws denying citizenship rights to immigrants from Asia. The average worker earned $13 for a 60-hour work week.

    The criminal justice system was still in its infancy. For example, the juvenile court had just been created in 1899; many states and the federal government did not yet recognize probation as a legitimate penal sanction, and in most states children continued to be confined in adult correctional facilities. There were no established standards for those who worked as probation officers and few, if any, published materials about the practice of community supervision of law breakers. It was decided that the newly established National Probation Association (NPA) would seek to “offer a broader medium for the exchange of ideas, methods, reports, and questions” and to arrange for future meetings of probation officers from across the country. Initially, only probation officers were allowed to be members of the NPA, Timothy Hurley was elected as its first president, and the annual dues were 25 cents. The NPA remained an informal and voluntary association until 1921. The life of the organization consisted primarily of annual meetings of the membership. During the early years, the membership of the NPA became actively involved in the growth of the juvenile court movement and the emergence of child guidance clinics that helped assess the treatment needs of delinquent youth. Julia Lathrop, the newly appointed head of the U.S. Children's Bureau, enlisted the aid of the NPA to conduct a national survey of the progress of the juvenile court in its first decade. The NPA also helped promote the use of psychiatric expertise in the criminal justice system. The members drafted and advocated for the first federal probation law in the U.S. Congress.

    There was a growing sense that the NPA should seek funding and create a paid staff. Through the energetic work of Charles L. Chute, who headed the New York State Probation Commission, the NPA was able to garner major contributions from the Milbank Memorial Fund, the Commonwealth Fund, and many other private philanthropies. With its paid staff and as the only national organization, the NPA was called upon to conduct surveys of juvenile courts and corrections systems in many jurisdictions. These surveys permitted the NPA to make recommendations for urgent reforms of the American justice system. Often these reports stressed the inhumanity of housing children in adult jails and led the NPA to organize local communities to open juvenile detention facilities for wayward youths.

    Over the next 100 years, the NPA expanded and became the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. In 1947, the NPA merged with the American Parole Association to become the National Probation and Parole Association (NPPA). In 1952, the NPPA began publishing a number of professional journals, including a newsletter designed for citizens, Crime and Delinquency. Leadership of the Board of Directors included such notable figures as former Attorney General George W. Wickersham, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Charles Evan Hughes, and Harvard Law School Dean Roscoe Pound.

    Also during the early 1950s, the NPPA began organizing regional offices in a number of locations. With financial support from the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation and the Ford Foundation, the NPPA explored the creation of citizen councils to support its growing policy agenda. In 1960, the NPPA was renamed the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD), reflecting its growth and broad public policy interests. The first citizen council was in Westchester County, New York, and by the early 1970s there were 38 state offices or regional affiliates of the NCCD. That same year, Don M. Gottfredson organized the NCCD Research Center, which became a world renowned center of empirical studies of the justice system. In 1953, the prestigious Council of Judges was formed by the NPPA to advise the organization on sentencing issues. A prominent Federal District Judge was the first chair of this Council; later in the 1990s the group was chaired by U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan.

    When President Lyndon Baines Johnson created a Presidential Crime Commission in 1965, he called on the NCCD to conduct a national survey of the corrections system. During this same period, the NCCD recruited America's top corporate leaders to advocate for and endorse the bold reform proposals of the Johnson Crime Commission. One of the most significant outcomes of that Commission was growth of the federal role in funding criminal justice research and demonstration projects under the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration. The NCCD was one of the principal recipients of federal grants over the next decade.

    During the early 1970s, the NCCD was an integral part of a national coalition to pass the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974. The NCCD emerged as one of the leading national research centers on juvenile justice and delinquency prevention programs. The focus on sustaining the large number of state-affiliated councils was supplanted with a greater participation in federal reform efforts, especially under President Jimmy Carter.

    Like most long-lived social institutions, the NCCD has had its periods of challenge. During the Reagan Administration the NCCD almost went out of existence due to a reduction in federal funding that resulted in severe financial problems. It was rescued by the support of many progressive professionals in the criminal justice system who wanted the Council to survive, and by generous contributions from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, the Guardsmark Foundation, and a number of private individuals. Board leadership in the 1980s came from one of the nation's most revered corrections experts, Allen Breed, who had just retired as Director of the National Institute of Corrections.

    During the 1990s, the NCCD enjoyed the support and confidence of Attorney General Janet Reno. The Council rebuilt its base of substantial federal funding, including a 40-community effort to help the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention implement its Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Chronic, and Violent Juvenile Offenders. In 1993, the NCCD created the Children's Research Center (CRC) and expanded its work into reform of the child welfare system. The CRC has helped over 15 states provide better care of maltreated young people. The CRC is also conducting research on innovative educational approaches for disadvantaged youth.

    Today the NCCD works with many states, and receives funding from national and state foundations such as the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Cowles Charitable Trust, the JEHT Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation, the Gerbode Foundation, the Rick and Regina Roney Foundation, The California Endowment, and the California Wellness Foundation.

    Bedsides reform of child welfare systems, the NCCD research and policy agenda focuses on crucial issues such as race and justice, mental health services in the juvenile justice system, women and girls in the justice system, and prisoner reentry. Together with the University of California, Berkeley, the NCCD has just launched a multi-year research project on immigration, culture, and youth violence prevention. This work builds on NCCD's previous work on youth violence prevention in Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and reaches out to youth and families in Latino communities. Both these projects were funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and represent NCCD's continued emphasis on violence prevention utilizing a public health model.

    Throughout its 100 years of service to America, the NCCD has been involved in many policy debates and professional engagements. Remarkable has been the consistency of themes and values expressed in that history. This volume offers a selection of some of the best writing by individuals who were members of the NCCD Board of Directors or its staff. We have organized these contributions around the themes that have always mattered to the NCCD. Those themes will guide its course into the next century. First and foremost, the NCCD fought and continues to struggle to maintain a separate justice system for children. Children are not little adults, and our legal system must take into account their unique needs for protection and guidance. The old NPA advocated for the expansion of probation as a scientific alternative to incarceration. The NCCD has continued this tradition of opposing the growth of policies favoring mass imprisonment, offering instead research evidence on safe alternative penalties.

    Early in its history, the NCCD examined the impact of child abuse and violence against women as a major factor in crime rates. The NPA was an early proponent of Domestic Relations Courts that would confidentially and dispassionately seek to reduce the harm in families experiencing severe conflicts. In contemporary scientific terminology, we refer to the ideas of Cathy Spatz Widom and her perspective on “breaking the cycle of violence.” Put simply, the research demonstrates that children who witness violence or who are victims of violence in their homes are at greater risk to become violent offenders themselves. As noted earlier, the NCCD launched its Children's Research Center to work on these issues. The NCCD's Executive Vice President S. Christopher Baird played a key leadership role in this area and reminded the NCCD that if it did not work to prevent child maltreatment, “we would spend the rest of our careers counting the number of prison beds that would be needed.”

    A major theme of the NCCD is the inextricable link between the pursuit of social justice and a criminal justice system suited for a democracy. The NCCD continues to emphasize the social forces such as racial divisions, gender inequalities, and class prejudices that plague our nation. Over the years, the NCCD has pointed out needed reforms of policing, sentencing practices, and correctional policies that could alleviate some of the wounds of social injustice. When our cities were in flames during the urban riots, civil rights protests, and antiwar movements of the last century, the NCCD consistently urged measured responses based on the expansion of opportunities and rights for all Americans, rejecting harsh state suppression of protests and disorder. Finally, the NCCD has long opposed the use of capital punishment because it has been applied in an arbitrary and capricious manner, and the death penalty has historically been applied disproportionately to racial minorities. The NCCD has long advocated that state-sanctioned murder has no deterrent effect, and it is antithetical to the core values of our civilization.


    The compilation of this book would not have been possible without the help of many people. Primary thanks go to Jerry Westby at Sage Publications. His belief in the project made it possible to pursue.

    Also, thanks go to Phyllis Schultze of Rutgers University, whose patient tending of the NCCD library has ensured the preservation of unique and valuable materials.

    Thanks also to Tanya Montes for doggedly pursuing the permissions necessary to reprint the articles in this volume originally appearing in a variety of publications, which we would also like to acknowledge as follows:

    Charles L. Chute, “Rational Crime Treatment,” originally appeared in The American Review of Reviews, May 1923, pages 521–526.

    Will C. Turnbladh, “A Critique of the Model Penal Code Sentencing Proposals,” originally appeared in Law and Contemporary Problems, Volume 23, Number 3, June 1, 1958, pages 544–566.

    Joan Potter, “Milton Rector: 43 Years of Reform,” originally appeared in Corrections, June, 1981, pages 19–27.

    Orlando Martinez, “Creating Effective Juvenile Justice Systems” is reprinted with permission from the author.

    Allen Breed, “The State of Corrections: A Triumph of Pluralistic Ignorance,” originally appeared in Criminal Law Bulletin, Volume 23, Number 3, 1987, pages 262–274. Special thanks also to the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.

    Norval Morris, “Impediments to Penal Reform,” originally appeared in the University of Chicago Law Review, Volume 33, Number 4, 1966, pages 627–656.

    Raelene Freitag and Madeleine Wordes-Noya, “Improved Decision Making in Child Maltreatment Cases,” originally appeared in the Journal of the Center for Families, Children & the Courts, Volume 3, 2001, pages 75–85.

    Rose Matsui Ochi, “Racial Discrimination in Criminal Sentencing,” originally appeared in The Judges' Journal of the American Bar Association, Volume 24, Issue 1, 1985, pages 7–11, 53–54.

    Patrick V. Murphy, “Organizing for Community Policing,” originally appeared as a chapter in Issues in Policing, New Perspectives, published by Autumn House Publishing, 1992, pages 113–128.

    Hubert G. Locke, “The Color of Law and the Issue of Color: Race and the Abuse of Power,” originally appeared as a chapter in Police Violence: Understanding and Controlling Police Abuse of Force, published by Yale University Press, 1996, pages 129–149.

    Anthony C. Thompson, “Navigating the Hidden Obstacles to Ex-Offender Reentry,” originally appeared in the Boston College Law Review, Volume XLV, Number 2, 2004, pages 255–306.

    Kim Taylor-Thompson, “Taking It to the Streets,” originally appeared in the New York University Review of Law and Social Change, Volume 29, Number 1, 2004, pages 153–201.

    Marvin E. Wolfgang, “We Do Not Deserve to Kill,” originally appeared in the Thomas M. Cooley Law Review, Volume 13, 1996, pages 977–990.

  • About the Editors

    Barry Krisberg has been the President of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) for 15 years. He is currently a Visiting Lecturer in Legal Studies at UC Berkeley. He is known nationally for his research and expertise on juvenile justice issues and is called on as a resource for professionals and the media. Prior to joining NCCD, he held several education posts. He held an adjunct Professorship in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Hawai'i and was also an adjunct professor with the Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs School at the University of Minnesota. He received both his master's degree in criminology and his doctorate in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania.

    Susan Marchionna has been with the NCCD for 5 years, first as Executive Assistant and currently as Director of Communication. Prior to joining NCCD, she worked independently as an editor, technical writer, and custom dressmaker. She has a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

    Christopher Baird is the Executive Vice President of the NCCD/Children's Research Center and has directed the Midwest Office in Madison, Wisconsin, since 1985. He has designed risk assessment, classification, and case management systems for child welfare, adult probation and parole, and juvenile justice systems. He has also authored numerous journal articles and other publications on research, program development, and management issues in child welfare, juvenile justice, and corrections.

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