Federal Criminal Justice System:

A Model to Estimate System Workload

GGD-91-75: Published: Apr 11, 1991. Publicly Released: Apr 11, 1991.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO developed a model that could be used to help maintain balance between the various components of the federal criminal justice system.

GAO found that: (1) separating the criminal justice system into four spheres, investigation, prosecution, adjudication, and correction, allowed for the development of a model that could be used for decisionmaking; (2) a relatively small number of federal agencies referred the majority of suspects to the U.S. Attorney, which specified the crime for which defendants are prosecuted; (3) more investigators normally resulted in more persons referred to U.S. Attorneys for possible prosecution; (4) more U.S. Attorneys resulted in more defendants brought to court; and (5) more judges increased the number of adjudicated cases, resulting in more defendants being sent to prison. GAO also found that its model: (1) shows whether there is likely to be an increase in pending end-of-year work load at the prosecution or adjudication stages; (2) reduces the criminal justice system to its basic elements, the statistical relationships between resources and work load at each stage of the system; (3) is only meaningful within the range of past experience; (4) does not attempt to anticipate changes in law enforcement priorities and resource use; and (5) could enhance congressional and executive branch decisionmaking if the necessary data were updated annually, and the model reviewed and revised as appropriate.