Law and Justice Planning

The federal government created a national crime control program in 1968 as part of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act. States submitted criminal justice programs to the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) and received grants to carry out their program. The Law and Justice Planning Office in Seattle started renting office space on the 29th floor of the Smith Tower in January 1972. Part of the Executive Office, its mission was to identify strategies to reduce crime and improve the criminal justice system and coordinate LEAA grant funding. From 1972 to 1975 the Office was funded with the Emergency Fund. In 1976 it became a program in the Office of Policy Planning with three sections: planning, administration and evaluation.

In its first year, the Office applied for grant funds from the Washington State Law and Justice Planning Office for a wide variety of programs including:

  • A detoxification program for the treatment of indigent alcoholics
  • Funds to to aid Neighborhood House with a program to reduce juvenile delinquency
  • Social functioning training for correctional workers
  • A learning center project program for juveniles on parole status in the Seattle area
  • A police/community/school relations program
  • A Seattle Crime Advisory Commission
  • An Officer-Counselor program in the Seattle Police Department

Philip Sherburne, director of the Law and Justice Planning Office, addressed the City Council's Human Resources and Judiciary Committee on August 15, 1972, when presenting his Criminal Justice Plan for 1973.

Phil Sherburne: I’m Phil Sherburne, director of the Law and Justice Planning Office. The plan is to be submitted to the State Law and Justice Planning Office. And it’s intended to be a description of the City’s crime problem, our methods for dealing with those crime problems, and the needs for the improvement of our criminal justice system. The specific purpose to which the state puts it is the preparation of their state plan where they allocate the LEAA dollars by program category in the state plan. The plan also provides the basis for the submission of specific applications by the City for LEAA during next year. So this plan has in it a description of the programs which we would intend to submit to the LEAA. Those will come back to the Council one at a time, like they have been, for submission.

Just a couple of observations that I would make about the plan and then I will take any questions on it. And that is, that as we’ve gone about describing the crime problem in the City and methods for dealing with it, I have been surprised and somewhat disappointed about how little we really know about our crime problem in the City and effective methods for dealing with it. The criminal justice system is one where people mostly operate according to their values and their feelings and beliefs about what works and what doesn’t work. And we don’t really examine whether it’s effective to have as many policemen as we have, or whether we would be just as well off with many fewer, as a most basic kind of decision which we might be making. So this plan proposed considerable research into the conditions in which crimes are committed so we can tell which of those it might be more difficult to commit. And will also involve research into who the offenders are so that we know what methods of intervening with those offenders might be effective as separate and distinct groups. It also involves in all of the program descriptions a testable method of determining whether or not the program has any effect upon its stated objectives, which are generally crime reduction.

I remember Mr. Tuai asked me several months ago, with all of these programs coming through from LEAA, did we evaluate those to see whether they were having any impact. Well, the problem generally was the programs were not even developed with a very clear and precise objective of having an effect on crime conditions. So, when you tried to evaluate them, you really didn’t know what you were evaluating them against. And that’s true of our city programs, our city police department, corrections program, the whole system is not designed in such a way that we can measure what effect it is having on our crime problems. And that’s the approach that we’re trying to take and hope that the influence of that approach goes beyond the expenditure of LEAA dollars and begins to affect City policy on how we deal with our crime problems in the City.

The full meeting can be heard here but note that the audio levels of all except the speakers are very low. Human Resources and Judiciary Committee meeting, August 15, 1972. Event 1322, Seattle City Council Legislative Department Audio Recordings (Record Series 4601-03).

Related resources