Many of our criminal justice woes can be traced to the loss of the community’s decisionmaking ability in adjudicating crime and punishment. American normative theories of democracy and democratic deliberation have always included the participation of the community as part of our system of criminal justice. This type of democratic localism is essential for the proper functioning of the criminal system because the criminal justice principles embodying substantive constitutional norms can only be defined through community interactions at the local level. Accordingly, returning the community to its proper role in deciding punishment for wrongdoers would both improve criminal process and return us to fundamental criminal justice ideals.
Laura I. Appleman,
Local Democracy, Community Adjudication, and Criminal Justice,
Nw. U. L. Rev.