Decision Making in Criminal Justice: Toward the Rational by Michael R. Gottfredson

By Michael R. Gottfredson

The learn of choices within the felony justice strategy presents an invaluable concentration for the exam of many primary facets of legal jus­ tice. those judgements aren't continually hugely obvious. they're made, or­ dinarily, inside of vast components of discretion. The goals of the selections are usually not regularly transparent, and, certainly, the significant targets of those judgements are frequently the topic of a lot debate. frequently they don't seem to be guided by way of particular selection guidelines. frequently the individuals are not able to verbalize the foundation for the choice of determination possible choices. enough info for the selections is mostly unavailable. hardly can the choices be proven to be rational. by way of a rationaldecision we suggest "that choice between these attainable for the decisionmaker which, within the mild of the data to be had, maximizes the likelihood of the fulfillment of the aim of the decisionmaker in that categorical and specific case" (Wilkins, 1974a: 70; additionally 1969). This definition, which stems from statistical determination thought, issues to 3 basic features of selections. First, it truly is as­ sumed collection of attainable judgements (or, extra accurately, of attainable choices) is out there. If just one selection is feasible, there is not any de­ cision challenge, and the query of rationality doesn't come up. often, after all, there'll be a decision, no matter if the choice is to make a decision to not decide-a selection that, in fact, frequently has profound consequences.

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Extra info for Decision Making in Criminal Justice: Toward the Rational Exercise of Discretion

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Results from victimization surveys (discussed subsequently) also support the notion that victim behavior is the main determinant of input to the criminal justice system. When representative samples of the population were interviewed about their victimization experience, only 3% of the victimizations they reported as known to the police came to the attention of law enforcement because the police were on the scene (Hindelang and Gottfredson, 1976). Victims thus serve as a preliminary filter for the crimes of common theft and assault with which the criminal justice process will be concerned.

13 OVERVIEW lines models comes from the research now available about how decisions are made in the criminal justice system, the focus of most of this book. Applying the guidelines perspective to what is known about criminal justice decisions leads, in our final chapter, to the identification of ten requisites for increased rationality in criminal justice. We claim that rationality can be more nearly approached by increased attention to the specification of clear, consistent purposes; by the identification or invention of adequate alternatives; by the identification of more relevant information; by using adequately flexible decision policy structures; by mechanisms for the control of unbridled discretion; by differentiation of policy and case decision making; by development of explicit policy and decision rules; by provision of adequate feedback systems; by improved measurement and classification processes; and by the insistence on decision policy and procedures within a system for evolutionary development toward more rational decisions.

A wide range of attributes of the shoplifters and of the offenses was studied in an effort to determine the principal determinants of the police referral decision. For the most part, the characteristics of the shoplifter (such as sex and race) were not found to be strongly related to the decision. The one major exception was employment. Unemployed shoplifters were referred more often, other things constant, than were those who were employed. The interpretation of this finding offered by Cohen and Stark was that the store detectives might perceive that unemployed shoplifters are more apt to be persons who steal for a living and hence pose threats in the future, whereas the employed may be only occasional thieves.

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