Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1996

Abstract

Since the mid-1960s, no element of the criminal justice environment has received more attention and been accorded greater importance, in both popular and professional commentary, than has the pressure of heavy caseloads. The lack of sufficient resources to deal with overbearing caseloads has been widely characterized as the most pervasive and most critical administrative challenge faced by police, prosecutors, public defenders, and courts.' National commissions have regularly complained that the criminal justice system is "overcrowded, overworked, [and] undermanned," and must be given "substantially more money" to cure those ills if it is ever to perform all of the tasks assigned to it.2 Academicians have maintained that expectations for the process will never be met so long as it is "confronted by quantitative demands that exceed the capacities of its resources and procedures" and leave it "groan[ing] under a stifling and increasing weight of numbers."3 Administrators have rated excessive caseloads as their "number one" problem,4 and have warned that the weight of caseloads have placed the system "on the verge of collapse."5 Political leaders have even suggested that excessive caseloads have contributed to an increase in crime.'


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