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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 82813 Find in a Library
Title: Choice of Disposition Modes in the Criminal Process - An Organizational Perspective
Author(s): A R Matheny; P Richards
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 35
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
Washington, DC 20531
National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
US Dept of Justice NIJ Pub
Washington, DC 20531
Grant Number: 79-NI-AX-0084
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Decisionmaking in the processing of criminal cases is analyzed from the perspective of contingency theory, and organizational concept that views criminal courts as 'open systems' that adapt to uncertainty.
Abstract: Based on the reasoning of contingency theory, this study hypothesizes that criminal justice decisionmakers will typically avoid the uncertainty in adversarial processing and seek to achieve 'bounded rationality' in their work by shifting toward negotiative settlement of criminal cases (plea bargaining). By involving all parties in a negotiating process, the inherent uncertainty of a trial is avoided. The hypothesis was tested through data drawn from a study of criminal cases processing in Chicago, Detroit, and Baltimore (Eisenstein and Jacob, 1977). Three dependent variables were used in the analysis: (1) the decision to dismiss a case or to prosecute it fully, (2) disposition patterns in those cases that were not dismissed, and (3) case outcome fully prosecuted cases (sentencing). A wide range on independent variables was used, with most being indicators of defendant characteristics and case characteristics. According to the hypothesis, findings should indicate that the nature of agreement and disagreement in the decisionmaking group should revolve in part around specific defendant and case characteristics. Patterns in case and defendant characteristics should therefore indicate whether work groups agree or disagree about case outcomes and the choice of appropriate disposition modes. The findings suggest that a contingency framework can provide some insight into differential patterns in case processing decisions in the three jurisdictions. Tabular data, 10 notes, and 28 references are provided.
Index Term(s): Criminal proceedings; Organization studies; Plea negotiations; Prosecutorial discretion; Sentencing/Sanctions
Note: Revised version of a panel paper delivered at the annual meeting of the Law and Society Association, Madison, Wisconsin, June 6, 1980.
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