Privatization is one of the most significant issues in criminal justice. Previous studies have concentrated on greater private involvement in corrections and policing, but have ignored citizens' crime commissions as a form of private sector participation in the justice system. This study examines the perceived effectiveness of the oldest and most famous citizens' crime commission in the United States-the Chicago Crime Commission. The Commission's effectiveness is measured, using data obtained through focused interviews with the top criminal justice authorities in the Chicago criminal justice system and in the Illinois legislature. Overall, the Commission was given high ratings on the criteria utilized to measure effectiveness. A high degree of similarity was discovered in the ratings of decisionmakers in city and county criminal justice agencies. Ratings by state legislators were much lower than those of decisionmakers from Chicago and Cook County. Differences in perceptions of the Commission's legiti macy account for some of the variation in the perceptions of effectiveness. Many city and county authorities re garded the Commission as part of the informal, unofficial criminal justice system in Chicago. By contrast, most of the legislators perceived the Commission as operating outside both the local justice system and the legislative system. One of the important substantive issues raised by this study is the distinction between realistic change and fundamental change in the criminal justice system.
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