Discretion Within The Criminal Justice Process

1667 Words May 4th, 2016 7 Pages
Discretion in policing and the court system is a necessary and unavoidable facet of criminal justice work, yet it is still very controversial. Discretion exists when courtroom actors (police officers, attorneys, judges) have the flexibility to choose an appropriate response to a situation. Police discretion is defined as “The opportunity of law enforcement officers to exercise choice in their daily activities” (Nowacki, 2015). This means that actors with a great deal of discretion at their disposal may allow biases to affect their decision-making. These decisions lead to important implications throughout the criminal justice process, especially in the courtroom. The process begins with the decision to arrest by a law enforcement officer in the field. Once the case is forwarded to the prosecuting attorney, multifarious avenues of discretionary decisions are available to resolve a case. Potential issues that could arise and that are ever-present in everyday policing include racism, sexism and socialism (Miller, 2015). These issues ultimately have a negative affect on the criminal justice process, leading civilians to not trust the one process and actors that are there to help them. While discretion should play a role in the actions a courtroom actor takes and cannot be eliminated entirely, instead it should be limited and controlled throughout the criminal justice environment so that citizens can once again trust the process and so that there will be no disparities.

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