skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 74192 Find in a Library
Title: Decisionmaking in Criminal Justice - Toward the Rational Exercise of Discretion
Author(s): M R Gottfredson; D M Gottfredson
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 403
Sponsoring Agency: Ballinger Publishing Co
Cambridge, MA 02138
Sale Source: Ballinger Publishing Co
Harvard Square
17 Dunster Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This book reviews and analyzes decisions made at critical points in the criminal justice process and offers a model, derived from a literature review and analysis, that sets forth prerequisites to rational decisionmaking.
Abstract: It begins with an overview of the decisions in the criminal justice system -- what they are, who makes them, how they are made, and with what consequences. Next, the decision to report a crime to the police is examined on the basis of recent study findings. Another section focuses on police officers' decisions to make arrests in the absence of warrants. Essential issues of pretrial release decisions are also explored, such as balancing the preservation of a defendant's liberty before conviction against the goals of community protection and orderly justice. Other sections investigate the empirical basis for the decision to initiate prosecution; recent trends in sentencing philosophy and their implications for rational decisionmaking; and some common decision problems in community-based and institutional corrections. The goals and objectives of parole decisions are examined in terms of alternatives, the conflicting viewpoints of decisionmakers, and the need for further research. It is concluded that three factors persistently affect decisionmaking throughout the criminal justice system: the seriousness of the offense, the prior criminal conduct of the offender, and the personal relationship between the victim of the crime and the offender. The suggested model for increased rationality in criminal justice decisionmaking emphasizes clear, consistent aims; adequate alternatives, relevant information, and flexible decision structures. Other essential features are controlled discretion, differentiation of policy and case decisions, explicit policy and decision rules, and the development of feedback systems that can provide guidance for decisions and can assist in the evaluation of agency effectiveness. Footnotes are given for each chapter. Tabular data and a bibliography of about 400 citations are included. Subject and author indexes are appended.
Index Term(s): Behavioral and Social Sciences; Citizen crime reporting; Decisionmaking; Discretionary decisions; Judicial decisions; Police decisionmaking; Police discretion; Pretrial hearings; Probation or parole decisionmaking; Prosecutorial discretion; Sentencing reform
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.