In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Community-Based Justice Systems

  • Introduction
  • Theoretical Frameworks and Overviews
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Jails and Localized Justice
  • Parole Reentry and Reentry Courts
  • Intermediate Sanctions
  • Justice Reinvestment Initiative

Criminology Community-Based Justice Systems
Kimberly R. Kras
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 April 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 April 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0216


Community-based justice systems reflect the inherent importance of communities as a part of justice system processes as opposed to simply being subjected to it. Much of what we know and understand about community involvement in the justice system consists of community-based corrections both in adult and juvenile systems. Extensive bibliographies have been completed on adult community corrections (see the Oxford Bibliographies article in Criminology “Community Corrections” by Beth M. Heubner) and juvenile community corrections (see the Oxford Bibliographies article in Criminology the “Juvenile Justice System” by Terrance J. Taylor), yet developments in these areas warrant additional citation. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports at the end of 2014, approximately 4.7 million adults were under community corrections supervision, with an additional 1.5 million adults incarcerated in prisons and jails, and, as such, community-based justice alternatives to incarceration are an important feature in the justice system as a way to divert individuals convicted of certain types of crime from detention, jail, or prison, and to attempt to deliver punishment and seek rehabilitation and reintegration in the community. Further, community justice aims to restore victims and repair communities affected by crime. A broad literature exists surrounding the practices and policies in this area to be evidence based, with special attention to those alternatives that achieve the best outcomes, such as reductions in recidivism or substance use. In addition to these important justice-related outcomes, the cost-savings ratio of supervising convicted persons in the community rather than in prisons is significant, according to the Washington State Institute for Public Policy. In the early 21st century, these efforts toward evidence-based practices and cost beneficence are discussed nationally and internationally via legislation on justice reinvestment. The following article presents the most-important works spanning community-based justice efforts across the field.

Theoretical Frameworks and Overviews

Community-based justice reflects inclusion of the community in justice efforts to deal with crime. Karp and Clear 2000 suggests that community justice involves programs and practices focused on community-level outcomes by addressing problem solving and restorative justice, enhancing social capital, and emphasizing reintegration. The theoretical framework and principles underlying community-based justice are procedural justice and restorative justice. Here, according to Karp and Clear 2000 and, more recently, Bazemore and Schiff 2015, the community justice framework emphasizes involvement of the victim, community, and offender in restorative and reintegration processes to repair the harm and reestablish common values and norms. Inherent in this framework is improvement in the community’s capacity to establish norms and values, as well as to reduce inequalities and increase egalitarianism. Tyler and Lind 1990 suggests these ideals can be realized through community justice practices in police, courts, and corrections emphasizing procedural justice. Other works, such as Worrall 2014 and Winstone and Pakes 2005, present overviews of historical trends in the use of community punishments to address crime.

  • Bazemore, Gordon, and Mara Schiff, eds. 2015. Restorative community justice: Repairing harm and transforming communities. E-book. London: Routledge.

    Compilation of chapters focusing on various ways restorative justice can inform the use of community-based sanctions, including victims, offenders, and the community at large, as well as innovations in community supervision and emphasis on addressing inequalities. The volume includes international scholars discussing theory and practice.

  • Clear, Todd R., John R. Hamilton Jr., and Eric Cadora. 2010. Community justice. 2d ed. London: Routledge.

    Updated version of the first edition by Clear and Cadora (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2003), describing the foundation and practice of community justice in policing, courts, and corrections, including future directions.

  • Karp, David R., and Todd R. Clear. 2000. Community justice: A conceptual framework. Boundaries Changes in Criminal Justice Organizations 2:323–368.

    Foundational work providing theoretical framing of the integrity model of community justice, focusing both on processes and outcomes of the justice system.

  • Tyler, Tom R., and E. Allan Lind. 1990. Intrinsic versus community-based justice models: When does group membership matter? Journal of Social Issues 46.1: 83–94.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.1990.tb00273.x

    Examines community justice by considering inclusionary and exclusionary group membership and its effects on perceptions of justice.

  • Winstone, Jane, and Francis Pakes, eds. 2005. Community justice: Issues for probation and criminal justice. Portland, OR: Willan.

    Volume of chapters chronicling the various community-based justice efforts in the United Kingdom and comparisons to other European countries.

  • Worrall, Anne. 2014. Punishment in the community: The future of criminal justice. E-book. New York: Routledge.

    Provides an extensive historical look at the emergence of community punishments, and the role of traditional probation in integrating punishment in the community. First published in 1997 (New York: Longman).

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