Criminal Justice Authority

Topics: Criminal justice, Police, Law Pages: 5 (1510 words) Published: July 24, 2011
Criminal Justice Authority Evaluation
The criminal justice system has always operated under discretionary authority. This includes law enforcement, the court system and corrections. Police officers enjoy the benefit of whether to charge for small infractions and whether an incident requires force to be applied. The court system uses discretionary authority in sentencing of the guilty. The department of corrections uses discretionary authority in the everyday running of the prison system, as they are the rulers of their community. Within this paper all of these fields will be evaluated and how the roles of a civilian oversight committee will fit in.

There is a growing awareness of how complex police work is. This has come from an examination of the officers’ use of discretion in their daily policing activities. There is also of the critical role that community leaders have in the vitality of their neighborhoods. Discretion is used at all levels of law enforcement not just with the patrol officers. There is a special interest in how the core of police authorities uses discretion to enforce the law. Negative policies (things officers may not do) have at least two limits. First there is that they are unhelpful and irrelevant restrictions. There are rules that limit what they should do which gives supervisors rope with which to hang them with. Second there is a large gray area of necessary discretion and the feeling of not wanting anyone telling them what they should do. Because of the inattention of administrators of the day-to-day policing the beliefs that officers are being told what not to do and will use this to hand an officer crosses the line is across the board with officers. These rules fail to tell the officers what they should do in a positive way (Kelling, 2011).

Police discretion cannot be structured by issuing policy statements or proscribing certain actions. There can and will be serious concerns if the departments do not develop policy guidelines that are clear and concise. Discretion is not only on patrol levels but all levels of criminal justice organizations. The portrayal of police work is inaccurate in some cases. Police do not make arrests on whether a law had been violated or not. A contributor to crime control is the low-level personnel decision makers. Social problems are solved by criminal law and unlawful behavior is diverse in nature. Criminal justice agency policies have an impact on other agencies. The idea of doing away with discretionary authority in law enforcement is in the minority (Kelling, 2011).

The judicial system is made up of discretionary authority. Judging can be described as Main, (2006) “the art or science of making discrete choices among competing courses of action” (p. 4). In order for judges to rule fairly and equitably they must have the discretion to practice any lawful route. The core of the judicial function is the right to exercise discretion. Judges have the discretion to allow certain courses of actions such as mistrials, motion to exclude, testimony of certain witnesses (whether to exclude them or not) and sentencing of the accused. A judge will make choices at their discretion with the help of different options. The judicial system puts their trust in the judges to make informed and sound judgments. A judge can be persuaded by the arguments of the court advocates. A judge is in the higher position and must see, evaluate and hear the testimony with firsthand knowledge. There are situations that a judge will not use their own discretion to make a decision but will rely solely on the testimony and there will be only a yea or nay decision (Main, 2006).

There are judicially-imposed conditions. These conditions can be used by judges to pursue a variety of objectives. There are four categories that overlap: Main, (2006), “(1) Germane Conditions which are conditions that reflect a close nexus with the criteria for deciding the motion that is precipitating the court...
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