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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76566 Find in a Library
Title: Justice in Search of Fairness (From Justice as Fairness, P 22-51, 1981, David Fogel and Joe Hudson, ed. - See NCJ-76564)
Author(s): P D McAnany
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 30
Sponsoring Agency: Anderson Publishing Co
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Sale Source: Anderson Publishing Co
Publicity Director
2035 Reading Road
Cincinnati, OH 45202
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This discussion of discretionary decisionmaking by criminal justice officials critiques some of the more prominent reform measures and considers problems likely to be encountered in structuring the discretion of officials.
Abstract: The search for acceptable standards concerning the exercise of discretion has been fueled by the inherent problem of discretion: low-level choice guided only by past experience and personal preference. A review of critiques that led to demands for control of discretion indicates that the 1960's was the decade when criminal justice became professional news. The President's Crime Commission delineated the crime problem at great length and offered data and recommendations for change, including the narrowing of police discretion. It was assumed that crime could be reduced while due process was increased. However, the failure of this assumption to be borne out in fact greatly influenced the attack upon discretion in the 1970's. Early critics focused on the lack of agreement of goals in the criminal justice system, while later critics thoroughly repudiated the criminal justice 'expert.' Major proposals for reducing discretion accorded to various officials along the system pipeline include procedural protections, such as the exclusionary rule that eventually resulted in standards for police discretion; rule-making; and parole and sentencing guidelines. Other methods to reduce discretion are legislative standards and commissions, administrative decentralization, and determinate sentencing. Finally, internal problems of justice reform and external problems are examined. The three main external problems are (1) the logic of a criminal justice model suggests a social justice which does not really exist, (2) the politics of reform is likely to generate harsh and rigid laws that will guarantee a bloated prison system, and (3) community participation is needed to forge just standards for the practice of criminal justice. The article has 115 notes.
Index Term(s): Determinate Sentencing; Discretionary decisions; Federal parole guidelines; Judicial diversion; Parole board discretion; Police discretion; Prosecutorial discretion; Sentencing commissions; Sentencing guidelines
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