Community courts (CCs) provide a therapeutic diversion for repeat low-level offenders. This article explores the characteristics of two Israeli CCs using the Criminal Law Taxonomy (CLT), an instrument developed by the authors for assessing process-, stakeholder-, substance-, and outcomes-related characteristics of criminal justice mechanisms. Through court-hearing observations and a process of multi-rater coding of cases, the article analyzes the courtroom dynamics according to a set of 13 measurable parameters. The process was conceived as a vehicle for promoting the model goals: it was highly offender-oriented and involved a needs-based terminology while allowing for restrained expression of emotion. However, the process included no victim–offender dialogue and offender supporters and community representatives were only partially involved. The findings provide information about the program's implementation integrity; they also offer a basis for comparison with the characteristics of other justice mechanisms. While focusing on an Israeli program, the issues the article addresses reflect practices and controversies that are salient in many jurisdictions worldwide.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The study was funded by Ashalim‐JDC (grant no. 204169). We are grateful to Daniella Beinisch and Shlomi Cohen from Ashalim for supporting the project and for contributing significant insights and guidance throughout the research. We thank Gali Pilovski‐Menkes for exquisite research coordination and Shefaa Abu‐Jabal, Tamar Ben‐Dror, Yarin Segev and Talia Yehuda for outstanding research assistance. We are also grateful to Judge Shmuel Melamed from the Tel Aviv Magistrate Court and Tel Aviv Community Court for helpful comments. Both authors contributed equally to this paper.
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