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Criminal Justice and Crime Control

February 17, 1965

Report Outline
Revision of Rules of Criminal Procedure
Public Safety vs. Rights of the Accused
Proposals to Strengthen Crime Control

Revision of Rules of Criminal Procedure

At The Heart of current efforts to modernize procedures of criminal justice is the fear that constitutional protections for the individual, as now interpreted by the courts, are actually having the effect of increasing criminal activity. The principal purpose of the efforts at procedural reform is to introduce clarity and order into a motley of new laws and court decisions which have left uncertainty as to what action is permissible, or is not permissible, in seeking to bring criminal offenders to justice. On one side are those who assert that police officers and public prosecutors are so crippled by court decisions that they cannot wage effective war on crime. On the other side are those who believe that the state's crime-fighting powers are still too formidable to permit modification of legal safeguards against their abuse.

Efforts by Different Groups to Clarify Rules

The American Bar Association recently embarked on a large-scale project to formulate minimum standards for the administration of criminal justice, with a view to “improving the fairness, efficiency and effectiveness of criminal justice in state and federal courts.” Chief Judge J. Edward Lumbard of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, heads the 12-member special committee that is directing the A.B.A. project. Eighty outstanding judges, lawyers and law school professors have been named to serve on advisory committees dealing with six aspects of the general question: (1) Police functions, (2) prosecution and defense, (3) criminal trials, (4) sentencing and review, (5) fairness of trials and (6) press freedom. The undertaking is expected to take three years to complete. After that, the A.B.A. plans to work for adoption of the recommended standards in state and federal jurisdictions.

The Bar Association's project calls to mind that on May 25, 1962, the American Law Institute approved a model penal code which had been in preparation for a decade and which “even before the code was approved had begun to influence the criminal law of the states and the federal government.” Preparation of that code, like the present A.B.A. project, was a comprehensive undertaking by leading authorities, aimed to bring order out of scattered and sometimes inconsistent enactments, decisions, and precedents. The American Law Institute is currently midway on a five-year study of anti-crime procedures prior to arraignment, a field which is the subject of a great deal of controversy.

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