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Decision Making in Criminal Justice : Toward the Rational Exercise of Discretion - Michael R. Gottfredson

Decision Making in Criminal Justice

Toward the Rational Exercise of Discretion


Published: 30th November 1987
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The study of decisions in the criminal justice process provides a useful focus for the examination of many fundamental aspects of criminal jus­ tice. These decisions are not always highly visible. They are made, or­ dinarily, within wide areas of discretion. The aims of the decisions are not always clear, and, indeed, the principal objectives of these decisions are often the subject of much debate. Usually they are not guided by explicit decision policies. Often the participants are unable to verbalize the basis for the selection of decision alternatives. Adequate information for the decisions is usually unavailable. Rarely can the decisions be demonstrated to be rational. By a rationaldecision we mean "that decision among those possible for the decisionmaker which, in the light of the information available, maximizes the probability of the achievement of the purpose of the decisionmaker in that specific and particular case" (Wilkins, 1974a: 70; also 1969). This definition, which stems from statistical decision theory, points to three fundamental characteristics of decisions. First, it is as­ sumed that a choice of possible decisions (or, more precisely, of possible alternatives) is available. If only one choice is possible, there is no de­ cision problem, and the question of rationality does not arise. Usually, of course, there will be a choice, even if the alternative is to decide not to decide-a choice that, of course, often has profound consequences.

1 Overview.- 2 The Victim's Decision to Report a Crime.- 3 The Decision to Arrest.- 4 Pretrial Release Decisions.- 5 The Decision to Charge.- 6 Sentencing Decisions.- 7 Correctional Decisions in the Community.- 8 Correctional Decisions in Institutions.- 9 Parole Decisions.- 10 Toward More Rational Decision Making.- Author Index.

ISBN: 9780306425257
ISBN-10: 0306425254
Series: Law, Society and Policy
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 308
Published: 30th November 1987
Publisher: Springer Science+Business Media
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.6  x 3.18
Weight (kg): 0.64
Edition Number: 2
Edition Type: Revised